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Erdogan wants laptop ban lifted 'as soon as possible'

Erdogan made the remarks in a televised speech on Thursday [AFP]

Date of publication: 24 March, 2017

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the US and Britain to lift their bans on laptops and tablet computers on-board flights from many Middle East and North African airports.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the US and Britain to lift their bans on laptops and tablet computers on-board flights from many Middle East and North African airports, on Thursday including Istanbul.

"I hope that these nations, the United States and Britain, will review this and withdraw it as soon as possible," Erdogan said in a televised interview.

Washington decided to ban electronic devices bigger than mobile phones on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in seven Middle Eastern countries and Turkey. 

Britain followed with a similar ban from five countries from the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey shortly after.

Banning laptops and other electronic devices in cabins should in theory reduce the risk of such appliances being used to hide a bomb, as scanners for checked luggage are usually more sophisticated.

The US ban affects around 50 flights per day from nine airlines: Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudia, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways. 

Meanwhile, the British ban affects 14 airlines: British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.

Some Arab airlines have responded to the 'surprise' ban.

Dubai's Emirates airline has said it will provide a free packing-and-handling service for passengers on flights hit by a US ban on electronic devices larger than a standard smartphone.

Emirates said passengers could hold on to their laptops and tablets after checking in until boarding time, when security staff at the gates will themselves pack the devices into boxes and load them onto the flight. 

Both the US and UK have cited credible threats to civil aviation from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group as the reason for the ban, which has come under criticism for targeting majority-Muslim countries.

Royal Jordanian also responded to the ban that officially goes into effect this Saturday in a humorous manner.

In adverts, Jordan's national carrier gave people a list of 12 things to do during their flight without their laptop.

Among the suggestions are "read a book", "analyse the meaning of life" and "think of reasons why you don't have a laptop or tablet with you".

The Amman-based airline also said computer-addicts who are restless on their flights can pretend their tray tables are keyboards.

Finally, it said that for those who are still bored during their flights to the UK or US they can do what Jordanians do best: "stare at each other".

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