Six airlines that operate direct flights to the U.S. from the Middle East and North Africa are now free of the laptop carry-on ban imposed in the spring, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.
In March, DHS ordered nine airlines at 10 overseas airports to ban portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone from carry-on bags. The devices had to be placed in checked baggage.
Since then, DHS Secretary John Kelly said airlines could be released from the ban if they comply with newly imposed security directives calling for more extensive passenger screening, increased use of bomb-sniffing dogs, and improved security measures.
Kelly also said the electronics ban would not be expanded to airports in Europe and elsewhere, as long as the new security measures are observed. But he said if any airline fails to comply with the new directives, the U.S. could levy fines, limit the carrier's ability to fly to the U.S., or completely ban electronic devices from an airline's inbound planes in both carry-on and checked baggage.
The six airlines deemed to be following the new directive, and therefore no longer subject to the electronics ban, are Qatar airlines operating from Doha, Emirates Air from Dubai, Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, Kuwait Airways from Kuwait City, Royal Jordanian from Amman, and Ethiad Airways from Abu Dhabi.
EgyptAir said it expected to be added to the cleared list on Wednesday, a statement that U.S. officials did not dispute. The other two carriers, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Royal Air Moroc, have indicated they also intend to comply, according to DHS spokesman David Lapan.
Teams of inspectors from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration must verify that the airlines are complying with the new American security directives before the electronics restrictions are lifted.
Lapan said no further restrictions are planned on taking portable electronics into the passenger cabin on overseas flights from the U.S.