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Trump’s Electronics Ban Is Ineffective, Says International Air Transport Association Chief

An international airline trade organization on Tuesday denounced the Trump administration ban on some electronics on direct flights from several Muslim-majority countries, criticizing the policy as a move toward “more restricted borders and protectionism.”

Speaking to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), questioned the efficacy of the ban, which prohibits electronics larger than a cellphone on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.

“The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate,” de Juniac said. “Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness.”

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The regulations, prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices in electronic gadgets, require that electronics larger than a cellphone, including laptops and tablets, must be stowed with checked baggage on U.S.-bound passenger flights.

Britain followed suit with a similar ban on larger carry-on electronics on direct inbound flights from six countries, and Canada is considering its own policy on electronics.

The airports covered by the U.S. ban differ from those in the UK one, and de Juniac questioned why the two countries did not have a common list. He admonished the two governments for what he characterized as insufficient communication and coordination in enforcing the policy.

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“The commercial distortions (these electronics bans) create are severe,” he said. “We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.”