On Tuesday 21 March, the British Government announced new aviation security measures on all inbound direct flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.
Under the new arrangements, passengers boarding flights from these countries to the UK will not be allowed to take phones, laptops and tablets which are larger than 16.0 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm into the cabin of the plane. Larger items will have to be checked-in and placed in the plane’s hold.
“The additional security measures may cause some disruption for passengers and flights, and we understand the frustration that will cause, but our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals. Direct flights to the UK from these destinations can continue to operate to the UK subject to these new measures being in place”, the British Government said in a statement.
The announcement follows a similar measure announced by US authorities affecting flights originating in a longer list of ten Middle-East and African airports.
According to the US Homeland Security Department, evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.
On 2 February 2016, an explosion occurred onboard Daallo Airlines Flight 159, en route from Mogadishu to Djibouti. An investigation into the bombing was carried out by the National Intelligence and Security Agency, with the cooperation of airport authorities and local police. Initial tests of the damage on Flight 159 confirmed traces of explosive residue. It is thought that a bomb, possibly hidden within a laptop, was carried onto the aircraft by a person in a wheelchair.