World

Stricter screenings for travellers flying to US from today

WASHINGTON: New security measures including stricter passenger screenings will take effect today on all US-bound flights to comply with government requirements designed to avoid an in-cabin ban on laptops, airlines said.

The new measures, which could include short security interviews, will affect 325,000 airline passengers on about 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the US on 180 airlines from 280 airports in 105 countries.

The US announced the new rules in June to end its restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.

Those restrictions were lifted in July but the US said it could reimpose measures on a case by case basis if airlines and airports did not boost security.

At the time, airlines had 120 days to comply with the measures, including increased passenger screening.

That deadline ends today.

AIRLINES

Lufthansa Group said on Tuesday the measures would be in place by today and travelers could face short interviews at check-in or at the gate. Economy passengers on Lufthansa's Swiss airline have been asked to check in at least 90 minutes before departure.

Cathay Pacific said it would suspend in-town check-in and self bag-drop services for passengers on direct flights to the US. The airline said passengers would also have short security interviews and it advised travelers to arrive three hours before departure.

Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Director General Andrew Herdman said having a globally coordinated security approach made more sense than having destination-specific requirements.

"This is not a positive," he said of the US measures at an industry conference in Taipei. "It adds complexity."

A Transportation Security Administration spokesman said "the United States continues to work with our partners to raise the baseline of global aviation security and keep the entire traveling public safe."- REUTERS

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