Cabin Electronics Ban Lifted on Flights From Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways announced today that the cabin electronics ban has been lifted on all US-bound flights departing from Abu Dhabi (AUH) airport. Effective immediately, passengers may begin bringing laptops and other portable electronic devices on board with them when departing on flights from the United Arab Emirates capital.
The change is a result of recent rules put in place by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which earlier this week announced a set of enhanced security measures that airports could implement in order to avoid being covered by the ban. Since Abu Dhabi has an existing US Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facility, it's not surprising that it's the first airport able to meet the new security procedures.
The lifting of the ban at Abu Dhabi will primarily benefit Etihad, which began informing its customers about the policy change this morning. The city serves as the airline's primary hub in the region, with daily nonstop flights to five US destinations — New York (JFK), Washington, D.C. (IAD), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX). In addition, the airport is one of the world's busiest international hubs, with more than 80 airlines serving over 100 destinations.
The cabin electronics ban was originally implemented in March at 10 airports across eight countries in the Middle East and Africa due to heightened security concerns following an incident aboard a flight between Mogadishu, Somalia, and Djibouti City, Djibouti, in which a bomb built into a laptop computer exploded and blew a hole in the main fuselage of the aircraft. After the ban was put in place, there were regular reports that it could be expanded to include flights departing from European airports as well, but that option is now unlikely for the vast majority of airports that will be able to implement the enhanced security procedures.
There has not yet been any indication of changes at either Dubai (DXB) or Doha (DOH), which are the respective hubs of Emirates and Qatar, Etihad's main Middle Eastern competitors. The latter is currently experiencing unrelated restrictions of much of its airspace by its neighbors, heavily constraining the volume of traffic it can accommodate in and out of Doha.