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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:00 am

Proposed laptop ban on European flights nixed

LORNE COOK and LORI HINNANT | Associated Press

BRUSSELS – Talks on a proposed U.S. ban on laptops and tablets in flights from Europe ended Wednesday with no ban – and a promise of more talks and better intelligence sharing.

For days, European Union officials have been hoping for details on the threat that prompted the proposed ban – the same details that President Donald Trump discussed with Russian diplomats at the White House last week.

The airline industry came out against the proposal in a strongly worded letter that said it would cause a severe downturn in trans-Atlantic air travel and cost travelers more than a billion dollars in lost time.

On Wednesday, in a secure room in Brussels, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the EU swapped information about threats involving air travel.

An official who followed the talks said the ban was “off the table” for now. He spoke on condition of anonymity to release details of the sensitive negotiations.

They also shared details about their aviation security standards and detection capabilities, and agreed to meet again in Washington next week “to further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel,” according to a joint statement.

The White House has defended Trump's decision to share classified information involving an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptops on aircraft with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador.

The proposed ban would create logistical chaos on the world's busiest air travel corridor. Such a ban would dwarf the current one, which was put in place in March and affects about 50 flights a day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East.