British goverment says airlines must implement laptop ban by Saturday

A traveller walking past a newly-opened TSA Pre-check application centre at LaGuardia Airport. The US is banning all electronic devices larger than an average-sized mobile phone.
A traveller walking past a newly-opened TSA Pre-check application centre at LaGuardia Airport. The US is banning all electronic devices larger than an average-sized mobile phone. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's ban on laptops and tablet computers in the cabin on flights from several Middle Eastern and North African countries must be implemented by Saturday, the government said on Wednesday (March 22).

The airlines have until 0001 GMT Saturday (8.01am Saturday, Singapore time) to implement the measure. But passengers “should go to the airport with the expectation that the measures are already in effect”, a transport ministry spokeswoman said.

On Tuesday, Britain said it would tighten airline security on direct flights originating from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

The move came hours after the US government warned that extremists plan to target passenger jets with bombs hidden in electronic devices, and issued a ban on flights from 10 airports in eight countries.

 
 

Although the US announced that they had given airlines 96 hours to inform travellers before the ban came into force at 3am on Tuesday (3pm Tuesday, Singapore time), there was confusion over when the British ban would kick in.

The British government told the domestic Press Association news agency on Wednesday that it had immediately informed the 14 airlines impacted by the new measure, but that it would be introduced "in the coming days".

"We are working with the airlines," a Downing Street spokesman confirmed to AFP, adding that "passengers should contact their airlines to find out if it applied to them".

When contacted by AFP, British Airways, one of the airlines affected by the new measure, said it was up to the government to communicate on the issue.