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Qatar Airways joins major Middle East carriers taken off the US laptop ban list

Qatar Airways has won the World's Best Airline title [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 July, 2017

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Passengers on Qatar Airways flights will now be able to take eletronics on-board, after the US removed the airline from its 'laptop ban' list.

Passengers travelling on Qatar Airways flights to the US can now carry their laptops and other large electronics on board, ending a three-month ban on devices on flights from the airline's Doha hub.

"Qatar Airways is pleased to confirm that with immediate effect, all personal electronic devices can be carried on board all departures from Hamad International Airport to the United States," the airline said in a statement on Thursday.

"Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport have met with all requirements of the US department of homeland security's new security guidelines."

It is the latest carrier after Abu Dhabi's Etihad, Dubai's Emirates and Turkish Airlines to meet new rules imposed by Washington in March for direct flights from ten airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

Washington drew up the new guidelines after intelligence officials learnt of efforts by the Islamic State group to produce a bomb that could be hidden inside electronic devices.

They required the installation of sophisticated imaging technology for X-ray and ultrasound screening of carry-on devices.

All other electronic devices larger than a mobile phone had to be transported only in checked luggage.

On 29 June, the US announced enhanced security measures for flights to the country, which require additional time to screen passengers and personal electronic devices for possible explosives.

Airlines that fail to meet the new security requirements could still face on-flight electronics restrictions.

World's Best Airline

Qatar Airways has recently reclaimed the top spot in the 2017 Skytrax World's Best Airline rankings despite facing logistical challenges after several Arab countries decided to ban the carrier from using their airspace.

"At these difficult times of illegal bans on flights out of my country by big bullies, this is an award not to me, not to my airline, but to my country," Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said at the Paris Air Show ceremony last month.

One of the world's fastest-growing airlines, Qatar Airways also won a raft of other major awards at the ceremony, including Best Airline in the Middle East, World's Best Business Class and World's Best First Class Airline Lounge.

The airline previously won the title of the World's Best Airline in 2011, 2012 and 2015.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia and allied states cut all ties with Qatar, closing its only land border, banning planes from their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from passing through their airports.

They accused Qatar of supporting and funding "terrorism" and working with regional rival Iran - charges Doha vehemently denies.

The airline has since been putting more flights over Iranian and Turkish airspace while appealing to a United Nations agency overseeing air travel to reopen those routes.

Qatar Airways also has announced it wants to buy 10 percent stake in American Airlines, which would cost about $2.4 billion and possibly further open the US market to the carrier.

On Wednesday, Qatar's foreign minister said he did not believe Qatar Airways' delay in getting off the laptop ban list had anything to do with the dispute.

"This is an ongoing process and I think irrelevant to the entire" political crisis, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in London.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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