THE Australian government has confirmed that it is considering approving a “laptop travel ban” similar to those in the United States and Britain, with aviation experts saying it might not have the intended effect of keeping flights safe.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday that his government was “looking very closely” at a potential laptop travel ban due to the threat posed by combustible lithium batteries found in personal computers.
But on Wednesday, a chorus of Australian experts have questioned the reasoning behind the potential ban.
Aviation journalist and expert Geoffrey Thomas told the Seven Network that if Australia was to follow the lead of the current British ban (which prohibits laptops on flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia), it wouldn’t affect flights to and from Australia because no airlines serve those destinations directly.
“If we follow the British ban, this is where it gets complicated because Britain has not banned laptop of flights from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, whereas the United States has,” Thomas said.
“If we do follow the British ban, in actual fact there won’t be a ban, because the only non-stop flights (to Australia) from that part of the world are from those (Middle Eastern) airports.
“But if we follow the American lead, then all flights from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha would be impacted and that would be Qantas, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
“Unfortunately the inconsistencies of this ban has led to confusion in the travel market and until we get more information from the government, it’s very hard to tell what will be banned and from where.”
Meanwhile, John Coyne, a national security analyst with the Australian Strategic
Policy Institute (ASPI), told Fairfax Media that the government should only introduce a similar ban if the risk level is deemed to be sufficient.
“If there is no specific threat or risk, then they’ve got to carefully examine it — the measure just going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and not have any fundamental additional impact on security?” Coyne said.
While speaking to the press on Tuesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia was considering a ban of some form.
“We’re working very closely with our partners and, in due course, any announcements will be made formally through the Transport Minister,” Turnbull said at the time.