The UK has given a noncommittal response to US demands that security on US-bound flights be stepped up in the face of mounting terrorist threats to civil aviation.

It follows comments by US homeland security secretary John Kelly on June 28 that he would be demanding enhanced security procedures at all airports from which flights departed for the US. These could include increased use of dog searches, enhanced screening of electronic devices and general tightening-up of passenger inspections.

The UK-US transatlantic link is one of the most heavily trafficked routes in the world, with dozens of flights each day.

Asked whether it would be implementing enhanced security at UK airports for US flights and whether those higher standards would become the “default setting” for all UK-originating flights, the Department for Transport (DfT) in London issued a written statement.

“The safety and security of the traveling public is our top priority, and the UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world.

“It is for the US to determine its own security measures based on its own assessments, just as we do ourselves. We work closely with all our international partners to keep aviation security under constant review, but for obvious reasons we do not comment on specifics.”

The UK takes the view that any government can require airlines to put in place additional security measures before aircraft can fly to that country.

Pressed on whether the UK would tighten security in response to US demands, a DfT spokesman said: “If the US would like to change security requirements it’s entirely a matter for them. It’s then up to the airlines to implement it [sic].”

When it was pointed out that airlines were not responsible for searches at airports, he amended his comment to one that a combination of airlines and airports was responsible for security.

Asked whether the UK’s own ban on the carrying in the cabin of personal electronic devices (PEDs) larger than mobile phones from certain Middle East locations would continue, he said no changes were imminent.

The UK implemented its PED ban—which differed slightly from that issued by the US in terms of the affected countries—in March.

Alan Dron