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US, EU to meet next week in Washington to discuss aviation threats

Published: Updated:

US and European Union officials will meet next week in Washington D.C. for more talks about risks to air travel, but no extension of a cabin ban on large electronics devices was announced after the two sides met in Brussels on Wednesday.

“At the meeting, both sides exchanged information on the serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats,” the EU executive and the US Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement after the four-hour meeting.

“The United States and the European Union reaffirmed their commitment to continue working closely together on aviation security generally, including meeting next week in Washington D.C. to further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel.”

Fears that a bomb could be concealed in electronic devices prompted the United States to announce in March that it would restrict passengers from bringing devices larger than cellphones onto flights originating from 10 airports, including those in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

Britain followed suit with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes.

European airports

The United States has been mulling increasing the number of airports affected by the ban to possibly include some European ones, prompting the EU to hold an extraordinary meeting of aviation security officials last week.

Chief among the Europeans’ concerns is the fire risk from placing hundreds of devices with lithium-ion batteries in the hold.

A senior US administration official said there was no time frame for making a decision on the extension of the ban but US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly was “currently considering next steps.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that should the ban be extended to flights from Europe it could cost passengers over $1 billion a year and create safety risks.

In 2016, 30 million people flew to the United States from Europe, according to US Transportation Department data.

According to airports association ACI Europe, there are 3,684 weekly flights being operated between European airports and the United States.

The five airports with the largest number of US weekly flights are London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol and Dublin, ACI Europe said.