The US imposed ban on electronics from flight cabins has been lifted from Etihad Airways. This is due to increased security checks at Abu Dhabi International Airport; including the existence of a US customs station and increased cooperation with the TSA.
All this means is that Etihad passengers heading to the US through Abu Dhabi will be able to keep their electronics with them, instead of having to check the devices in with the rest of their luggage.
The original ban was set in place due to security concerns. US officials claim that they have intelligence indicating that terrorists have been experimenting with weaponising the Lithium-Ion batteries in electronics, and would be using them to bring down planes.
Etihad has the benefit of operating from Abu Dhabi, which has a US Customs and Border Control office. Meaning that travelers are screened for entry to the US before they even board the plane. Giving the Americans more control over the passengers on the flights.
However, the exception made for Etihad has not been extended to other Middle Eastern Airlines. Not to mention that the UK has not lifted its own laptop ban on Etihad flights.
The NSA had considered expanding the electronics ban to all flights entering the US, although that appears to no longer be the case. Whether this indicates that the security situation has improved enough to begin dropping the electronics ban entirely is unknown, but it looks like those transiting through the Middle East will have an option for keeping their devices on them.
[Source: New York Times]