WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday it has lifted a ban on state-owned EgyptAir passengers using laptops on U.S.-bound flights, leaving just two Middle Eastern airlines still under restrictions first imposed in March.
EgyptAir earlier on Wednesday announced the lifting of the restrictions on its Cairo-to-New York flights in a Twitter post, but noted that they remain in effect for flights to London.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, also known as Saudia, said in a statement that it expected the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19. Royal Air Maroc believes it could get off the ban for flights out of Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport by July 19, a senior official of the airline said in a statement.
A Homeland Security spokesman, David Lapan, said the July 19 date is a “realistic” timetable for a decision on the two airlines.
The measures were imposed in March on nine airlines, most of which were Middle Eastern carriers, to address the potential threat of hidden explosives in laptops and other devices. The restrictions put an additional burden on airlines already hurting from the Trump administration’s travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries.
On June 28, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly unveiled enhanced security measures for all foreign flights arriving in the United States, which officials said were designed to end a limited in-cabin ban on laptops and prevent the ban’s expansion to additional airports.
European and U.S. officials told Reuters that airlines had 21 days from June 28 to put in place increased explosive trace detection screening and 120 days to comply with other security measures, including enhanced screening of airline passengers. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)