Chamber of commerce urges airports to accommodate laptops

Open letter sent to government

ABL State Chamber has sent an open letter to the Federal Minister for Transport, Warren Truss, and the CEOs of Australian airlines seeking urgent storage provisions for laptops on planes.

The open letter follows the introduction of restrictions banning laptops on flights following a foiled terrorist attack on flights out of the United Kingdom on August 10, 2006.

ABL State Chamber [which was formed when ABL merged with the NSW Chamber of Commerce in March this year] is calling for provisions to prepare in advance for possible restrictions in Australia. ABL has 28,000 members.

ABL State Chamber CEO Kevin MacDonald said provisions should be made because restrictions on the storage of laptops on planes are inevitable and travellers do not trust baggage handlers with electronic equipment.

"The events at UK airports in August demonstrate that at some time in the future there will be temporary or permanent restrictions in relation to the usage and or storage of laptops on commercial flights," MacDonald said.

"Business [wants to] prepare the contingency plans now for laptop carriage [and] develop the alternatives now, so that if there are ever temporary or longer term bans, then we will be prepared for them and hopefully, we won't see the chaos we saw in London."

Laptops became a security threat when it was discovered they can be used as a detonator for explosives, as well as interfering with GPS receivers, crucial for take-offs and landings.

In a study commissioned early this year, Carnegie-Mellon University Department of Engineering and public policy researcher Bill Strauss found electronic devices, notably laptops and mobile telephones, also interfere with flight equipment.

Following the UK laptop restrictions, Heathrow airport reported up to 120 laptops, almost three times the average, were handed in by security staff every month, as many passengers are wary of unattended baggage.

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