Airlines organisation IATA has called for a rethink by governments on the current laptop ban being applied onboard some flights to the UK and US.

Larger mobile devices, including laptops and tablets, have been banned onboard some flights from the Middle East and North Africa to the UK and US since March due to security fears.

There have also been persistent rumours over recent weeks that US authorities may extend the ban to all flights from Europe to the US.

Alexandre de Juniac, director general of IATA, said: “We need to get security right. There is a clear duty to make sure that the measures are logical, effective and efficient. That is not the case with the current ban and it must change.

“Security is ultimately a government responsibility. Governments have the resources and information and they set the rules.

“But airlines also have a big stake in the matter – we have vital operational expertise and we are asking for a robust dialogue with governments to put that expertise to good use. We could achieve better solutions by working together and there is a lot of work to do.”

IATA has estimated that the current ban could cost $180 million in lost productivity, which could mushroom to $1.2 billion if the ban is eventually expanded to Europe-US flights.

“First, we must find alternatives to the ban,” added de Juniac. “In the short-term, these include more intense screening at the gate and skills training. In the medium-term more advanced and faster explosive detection technology is the solution to evolving bomb threats.”

De Juniac made his comments during IATA’s annual general meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz also told the AGM that US authorities were concerned that explosives disguised as laptops could be detonated manually onboard aircraft.

But other airline bosses expressed concern about the risk of lithium batteries overheating on laptops and other devices while being stored in aircraft holds.

“Questions over the safety of placing so many lithium battery devices in the baggage hold have not been answered,” added de Juniac.

Rob Gill