The US government has lifted a ban on laptops in cabins on incoming flights from Abu Dhabi, saying the United Arab Emirates’ Etihad Airways had put in place required tighter security measures.
Etihad welcomed the decision and credited a facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport where passengers clear US immigration before they land in the US for “superior security advantages” that had allowed it to satisfy US requirements.
US immigration officials visually verified that the measures had been implemented correctly, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In March, the US government temporarily banned passengers on certain flights originating in eight countries in the MENA region from bringing electronic items.
The restrictions apply to any device larger than a mobile phone such as a laptops, tablets, iPads, cameras and portable DVD players.
However, mobile phones and medical devices are excluded from the ban.
The ban applies to nonstop flights to the US from 10 international airports serving the cities of Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Britain quickly followed suit with a similar set of restrictions.
Last week, the United States unveiled security measures for flights to the country designed to prevent the expansion of the ban to more countries that could cause major logistical problems and deter travel.
DHS spokesman David Lapan told Reuters that said Etihad’s efforts to implement extra security measures were a model for foreign and domestic airlines.
Etihad is the only airline that operates direct flights from Abu Dhabi to the US.
Etihad operates 45 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and the United States, the company said.
Other airports and airlines in the region, such as Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airlines, remain under the restrictions, he said.
Dubai-based Emirates, the largest international airline by passenger traffic and a rival to Etihad, said in April it was cutting flights on five US routes because of reduced demand, after a travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump and the laptop ban.