US, Europe swap air security information at laptop ban talks

Officials said the ban would only affect flights originating from select airports that do not thoroughly screen carry-on luggage.

"Beyond the immediate operational impact, we are concerned about the consequences that such a ban would have on demand for transatlantic air travel and ultimately connectivity between Europe and the U.S.", Jankovec added, noting that Emirates' decision to downsize its operations in the U.S. because of the ban is "indeed worrying and points to a wider and lasting economic impact".

The goal of Wednesday's talks is to "create a consultation, create a sharing of information", said an European Union diplomat, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing.

The industry had been sent into a state of panic after reports emerged that U.S. officials were looking to extend to Europe a ban on electronics in cabins on flights from eight mostly Muslim countries.

About 70-80% of travelers bring personal electronic devices with them, according to IATA, and about 40% have a strong need to use them on flights. The intelligence came from a USA partner and was considered so sensitive that it was distributed among only a small circle within the US government and withheld from broader sharing among English-speaking allies that US intelligence agencies do as a matter of course.

"I will wind up working four to five straight hours, which is like 15 in an office because of the lack of interruptions", Lewis said of his trans-Atlantic flights.

The widening of a United States ban on carrying electronic devices aboard aircraft to include flights from Europe will cost travellers in excess of US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion), said the head of the airline industry's global lobby group.

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The European Union had earlier pressed the refrain from barring electronics. There is more than 400 daily flights on routes between Europe and North America.

"At the meeting, both sides exchanged information on the serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats".

The current restrictions affect 350 US -bound flights per week from the Middle East and North Africa, the IATA estimates. Current and former US officials said Trump went well beyond outlining basic threat information in his meeting and Israel has voiced concern about the disclosure.

During a recent security summit in Washington, D.C., the industry urged regulators to adopt "short-term" measures to counter the potential threat from electronic devices.

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.

Officials with the European Union have been trying to pry details from US officials who have been pushing for the ban as a means of reducing the threat that such devices can be used by terrorists. "Neither were any other measures decided during this meeting". Secretary Kelly won't attend the Brussels meeting Wednesday because of a scheduling conflict, Lapan said.

The broad topic of a bomb threat was less sensitive than the specific intelligence, which contained information from its context that could jeopardize the intelligence-gathering abilities of the US ally. "We explained that. And our response should be one in common", Brivio said, voicing European concerns that the United States was about to take unilateral action.

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