By Alana Wise
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Airlines that do not comply with a new U.S. directive for enhanced security measures on inbound international flights could have their certificates to operate flights to the country revoked, a high-ranking U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official said on Thursday.
The official confirmed that the new security requirements, announced on Wednesday by DHS Secretary John Kelly, will not be funded by the U.S. government, leaving the costs to comply up to the airlines, airports and their countries of origin.
Airlines that do not follow new DHS rules could be fined, face restricted access to U.S. airspace or have their clearance to operate flights to the country withdrawn altogether, the official said.
The new security measures were designed to prevent widening a limited in-cabin ban on laptops and other large electronics. U.S. and European airlines had feared an expansion of the ban could cause major logistical problems and deter travel.
The United States in March banned laptops on flights to the United States originating at 10 airports in eight countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey, to address fears that bombs could be concealed in electronic devices.
The official on Thursday said the new security directive was not in response to a specific threat, but stemmed from the same intelligence cited for the electronics ban.
The new rule gives airlines operating from countries under the electronics ban a chance to have the restriction lifted if they satisfy the DHS requirements, but airlines that fail to meet the U.S. mandate could still face a ban on in-cabin electronics as well as other sanctions.
(Reporting by Alana Wise; editing by Phil Berlowitz, G Crosse)