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US orders extra air cargo screening for flights from Mideast

The US aviation security agency has issued an emergency order requiring additional screening of cargo on flights departing for the United States from five Mideast countries. It says the steps are aimed at preventing terrorist attacks.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that the order was prompted by “persistent threats to aviation.”

The countries falling under this order are UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The agency says they were chosen because of “demonstrated intent by terrorists groups to attack aviation from them.”

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said in a statement that it is “fully compliant with all regulatory security requirements across its operations.”

“The security and safety of our customers and aircraft is always our main priority,” an Etihad spokesperson said. The airline, however, said it could not disclose more specifics relating to any security measures.

The US aviation security agency said most of the requirements of the emergency order are already being carried out voluntarily by airlines in some countries.

Dubai’s Emirates airline, which will also be affected by the order, is yet to comment on the matter.

Other airlines affected by the order are Egypt Air, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, and Qatar Airways. This is the third time in less than a year that US authorities have targetted Middle Eastern carriers, and, more broadly, Muslim-majority countries.

In March 2017, the US imposed a ban on carry-on devices larger than a smartphone on direct flights to the States from 10 Middle Eastern airports including Abu Dhabi International and Dubai International.

The American government also implemented restrictions on issuing visas to citizens from certain Muslim-majority countries. US President Donald Trump last year issued an executive order suspending the entry of citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Though the electronics ban has since been lifted, it and the visa ban hurt capacity on flights to the US, with both Etihad and Emirates axing some routes to America as a result of lower demand.

Source: Gulf News

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