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Dublin would be one of the airports most affected by any moves by Washington to extend the laptop ban to US-bound flights from European cities, a major aviation conference in Ireland was told.

Airports Council International Europe said it regrets recent speculation that the current ban hitting selected Middle Eastern and North African airports will be extended, saying: “It reveals a lack of meaningful security cooperation between the EU and the US. This is not conducive to effective security and potentially compromises trust in the aviation security system.”

Olivier Jankovec, General Director, ACI Europe, addressing ACI Europe's Regional Airports' Conference and Exhibition at the Fota Island Hotel and Spa, Cork. Photo: Brian Lougheed

Olivier Jankovec, General Director, ACI Europe, addressing ACI Europe’s Regional Airports’ Conference and Exhibition at the Fota Island Hotel and Spa, Cork. Photo: Brian Lougheed

The representative body said the five airports with the largest number of US weekly flights are London-Heathrow (761 flights); Paris-Charles de Gaulle (353 flights); Frankfurt (291); Amsterdam-Schiphol (242); and Dublin (179). It said that “these five airports account for nearly 50pc of the weekly flights to the US. Based on a sample of European airports, the number of passengers carrying PEDs is estimated to be between 60pc and 90pc”.

Fifty-nine airports in the European Common Aviation Area have direct services to the US, with a total of 3,684 weekly flights being operated.

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ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec was addressing the conference in Cork’s Fota Island Hotel & Resort ahead of talks in Brussels between the European Commission and the US Department for Homeland Security on the issue of large personal electronic devices.

All in all, if the ban was to go ahead, it would hit the continent’s busiest airports hardest, where a significant portion of US-bound flights would need to be cancelled at short notice. For the flights that could still operate there would be delays, which would compromise onward connections in the US,” he said.

He warned that extending the current US ban to European airports “would result in significant disruptions, with implications on various aspects on airport and airline operations. Amongst these would be ad hoc screening checks at the gate of each flight, as well as the implementation of related processes to load PEDs into the hold of aircraft. This would require the deployment of a very large number of additional security staff. Appropriate staff are not readily available and would need to be trained.”

ACI Europe is calling on the US and the EU to share between themselves all information in their possession, to jointly review the threat which led to the initial US ban and carefully consider whether any additional security measures are needed for US-bound flights from European airports.

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