Wednesday September 19th, 2018 1:32AM

Emirates, Cathay Pacific start new screening for US flights

By The Associated Press
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Long-haul carriers Emirates and Cathay Pacific will start new screening procedures for U.S.-bound passengers Thursday after receiving "new security guidelines" from American authorities, the airlines said Wednesday.

It wasn't immediately clear if other global airlines would be affected, though the Trump administration previously rolled out a laptop ban and travel bans that have thrown global airlines into disarray.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, it comes at the end of a 120-day deadline for airlines to meet new U.S. regulations following the ban on laptops in airplane cabins of some Mideast airlines being lifted.

Emirates said in a statement it would begin doing "pre-screening interviews" at its check-in counters for passengers flying out of Dubai and at boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers. It urged those flying through Dubai International Airport, its headquarters, to allow extra time to check into flights and board.

"These measures will work in complement with the current additional screening measures conducted at the boarding gate," it said.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said on its website that it had suspended self-drop baggage services and that passengers heading to the U.S. "will be subject to a short security interview." Those without bags would have a similar interview at their gates.

In March, U.S. officials instituted the ban on laptops in airplane cabins across 10 Middle East cities over concerns Islamic State fighters and other extremists could hide bombs inside of them. That ban was lifted after those airlines began using devices like CT scanners to examine electronics just before passengers board airplanes heading to the U.S.

That laptop ban, as well as travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim countries, have hurt Mideast airlines. Emirates, the region's biggest, said it slashed 20 percent of its flights to America in the wake of the restrictions.

It wasn't immediately clear if other Mideast airlines were affected by the new rules.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said its operations "were normal" without elaborating, while Doha-based Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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