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New security measures for US flights take effect

The measures will affect around 2,100 daily flights to the United States. [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 October, 2017

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All incoming flights to the United States will be subject to new security screening procedures before take-off and security interviews from airline employees as part of stringent new anti-terror measures.

All incoming flights to the United States will be subject to new security screening procedures before take-off and security interviews from airline employees as part of stringent new anti-terror measures.

The Trump administration previously banned laptops and larger electronics from cabins on flights from certain Middle East hubs, and has attempted to impose a blanket visa ban on some countries - a measure now tied up in the courts.

The White House has insisted the controls are designed as anti-terror safeguards but Trump's critics have accused him of unfairly targeting Muslims with blanket measures.

Dubai-based Emirates, which operates the world's busiest airport for international travel, said it would begin carrying out "pre-screening interviews" at its check-in counters for passengers flying out of Dubai and at boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers.

It urged those flying through Dubai to allow extra time for check-in and boarding.

"These measures will work in complement with the current additional screening measures conducted at the boarding gate," it said.

Lufthansa, Emirates, Air France and Norwegian Air confirmed to AFP Wednesday that US authorities had asked for tougher controls at departure airports for non-stop flights to the United States. Other carriers issued statements also confirming the new measures.

Air France said it would begin the new security interviews on Thursday at Paris Orly Airport and a week later, on 2 November, at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

It said the extra screening would take the form of a questionnaire handed to all passengers.

EgyptAir said the new measures will include more detailed searches of passengers and their luggage as well as interviews, while Royal Jordanian said it would introduce the new procedures in mid-January, including giving passengers a questionnaire before check-in.

'Longer check-ins'

The airlines suggested that passengers arrive early for their flights to account for any additional delays caused by the new rules.

Norwegian said that its passengers would receive instructions by SMS message and that check-in desks would open four hours before departure for flights to the United States.

The US Transportation Security Administration confirmed that a package of new security measures, including direct screening of passengers, more checks for personal electronic devices, and other measures, were being introduced.

Spokeswoman Lisa Martinez said the measures would affect around 2,100 daily flights to the United States from around the world.

"These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports," she said.

But she would not confirm the specific use of check-in interviews.

Last week US lawmakers from the House Homeland Security Committee visited airports in Europe and the Middle East to inspect security conditions and discuss counter-terror cooperation.

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