By ALICIA A. CALDWELL
WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department is demanding that airlines around the world step up security measures for international flights bound for the United States or face the possibility of a total electronics ban for planes.
Compliance with the new rules could lead to the lifting of a ban on laptops and other large electronics already in place for airlines flying to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa. It could also stave off a much-discussed expansion of the ban to flights from Europe.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the rollout of the new rules Wednesday.
The changes will be phased in over time and include enhanced passenger vetting, explosives detection and efforts to root out insider threats to airlines.
“Security is my No. 1 concern,” Kelly said during a speech at the Center for a New American Security. “Our enemies are adaptive and we have to adapt as well.”
Kelly said the changes will be “seen and unseen” and will be phased in over the coming weeks and months.
He said airlines that don’t comply or are slow to enforce the new standards could be forced to bar large electronics in both carry-on and checked luggage. They could also lose permission to fly into the U.S. He said he’s confident that airlines will cooperate.
The current ban, with affects only foreign carriers flying to the U.S. from 10 cities, allows passengers to travel with larger electronics packed in checked baggage.
The new rules will apply to roughly 180 foreign and U.S.-based airlines, flying from 280 cities in 105 countries, according to Homeland Security. About 2,000 international flights land in the United States daily.
The original laptop and electronics ban has been in place since March amid concerns about an undisclosed threat described only as sophisticated and ongoing. That ban applied to nonstop flights to the United States from Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah…