Abu Dhabi has been removed from the list of 10 airports from which US-bound passengers are required to check large personal electronic devices rather than carry the devices on board aircraft.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Abu Dhabi International Airport, which has a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pre-clearance facility, was inspected by DHS officials who determined Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and the airport had implemented new security standards required for all US-bound commercial flights. When US homeland security secretary John Kelly announced the new requirements last week, DHS said the 10 airports on the so-called laptop ban list could have the restrictions lifted if they implemented the new security standards.
DHS has not been publicly specific about the new requirements, which cover 280 airports and 180 airlines globally. Generally, airlines flying to the US and airports that are the last points of departure to the US have been required to enhance “overall passenger screening,” conduct “heightened screening of personal electronic devices,” increase “security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas” and deploy advanced technology and expand canine screening, DHS has said.
“We welcome the decision by the US Department of Homeland Security to lift the electronic devices ban on flights between Abu Dhabi and the United States, following the successful validation of security measures at the US pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi Airport,” Etihad said in a statement. “Effective immediately, the removal of the restrictions allows passengers flying to the US to carry all laptops, tablets and other electronic devices onto the aircraft, subject to enhanced security measures.”
Dubai, another key United Arab Emirates hub and the base of Emirates Airline, remains on the laptop ban list for now, as does Doha, the base of Qatar Airways.
Kelly said when announcing the new requirements that the US would push more international airports to establish CBP pre-clearance facilities, and Abu Dhabi having one in place appears to be a key factor in allowing the electronic device restrictions to be lifted there. The ban applying to the 10 airports has been in place since March.