John Kelly, the Secretary for Homeland Security, has announced new aviation security measures. On Wednesday, Kelly confirmed that his department will be implementing new measures that will affect overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.
The head of the DHS told the Center for New American Security that if airline carriers rejected the new security measures being put in place, then they could face being banned from operating flights into the United States. On Wednesday, he said “the threat has not diminished” and that he is concerned that terrorist groups are once again interested in going after the aviation sector. The announcement was made after the Supreme Court largely implemented the Trump administration’s travel ban. The 90-day ban on travelers from six countries comes into effect on Thursday night.
The Supreme Court only made on change to the travel ban before giving it the go-ahead. Judges agreed that travelers from Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Syria, or Libya could enter the United States if they could provide they had a close relationship with American citizens, green card holders, family members, or students.
Kelly said that the new measures being implemented for airports and airlines will be “seen and unseen” and that they will be phased in over a period of time. The DHS did not provide any detail of the new requirements being put forward to airlines.
The DHS chief did, however, announce increased scrutiny of passengers entering the United States, with increased screening of electronic devices like phone and tablets. Kelly also confirmed that canines will deployed who are able to smell explosive devices, and more airports will be encouraged to become “pre-clearance locations.”
Kelly told the audience that the measures being developed will be a first step towards increasing the global baseline of aviation security, and that it will “make it harder for terrorists to succeed.” His agency says that the measures are being put in place to avoid implementing a full laptop ban, which would stop all passengers from carrying laptops and larger electronic equipment on board airplanes.
The DHS does not have jurisdiction over airports in other countries, but they do have power over air carriers that offer flights directly to the United States, meaning that these carriers will have to implement the new measures when they get the instructions from the department. The DHS did not provide a set date for when new measures will take effect, and at the event, Kelly said that it would be up to individual airlines to decide how quickly they will be able to introduce the new measures.
New measures will affect as many as 2,000 commercial flights that arrive into the United States on a daily basis, from 180 different airlines and 280 airports, coming from 105 separate countries. The decision to increase security measures instead of banning laptops has been welcomed by European and other foreign airlines who do not want to deter travel to the United States.
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