The US has announced it would implement tough new security rules for all airlines flying into the country, but held off from a threatened expansion of its carry-on laptop ban

"Inaction is not an option," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said, saying he believes airlines will comply with the new screening.

But he said the measures are not the last step to tighten security.

The new security measures, which European and US officials said would begin taking effect within three weeks, could prompt additional screening time for the 325,000 airline passengers arriving in the United States daily.

The decision not to impose new restrictions on laptops is a boost to US airlines, which have worried that an expansion of the ban to Europe or other locations could cause significant logistical problems and deter some travel.

Airlines that failed to satisfy new security requirements could still face future in-cabin electronics restrictions, Mr Kelly said.

European and US officials say that airlines have 21 days to put in place increased explosive screening and have 120 days to comply with other security measures, including enhanced screening of airline passengers.

US officials are requiring enhanced screening of personal electronic devices, passengers and explosive detection for the roughly 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the US from 280 airports in 105 countries.

Homeland Security officials told reporters they expected more than 99% of airlines would comply, a move that would effectively end the controversial electronics ban.
           
Airlines that fail to satisfy new security requirements could still face in-cabin electronics restrictions, Mr Kelly said."We expect all airlines will work with us to keep their aircraft, their crew and their passengers safe," he said.

Since laptops are widely used in flight by business class passengers - who pay double or more than the average ticket price - the airline industry had feared expanding the ban could cut into revenue.

U.S. authorities want increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas, expanded canine screening and additional places where travellers can be cleared by US officials before they depart.

The United States imposed restrictions on laptops in March on flights originating at ten airports in eight countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

They came amid fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken aboard aircraft. Britain quickly followed suit with a similar set of restrictions.

Homeland security officials said that those ten airports can get off the list if they meet the new security requirements.

Airline officials told Reuters they are concerned about adding enhanced security measures to all airports worldwide that have direct flights to the United States rather than focus them on airports where threats are highest.
           
European airline groups said in a document reviewed by Reuters that if the threats are confirmed, the restrictions should be deployed to cover all EU departing flights, not just US-bound flights.