The liquid hand luggage restrictions imposed on items leaving UK airports would have been eased on 29 April but, according to a government official, this will now not take place.
The change of heart follows concerns, expressed by the airline fraternity, that partially re-allowing liquids would trigger scenes of airport chaos. Writing directly to the organisations that own the UK’s airports, Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, confirmed that the hand luggage liquid ban would be unaltered and referred to security as the reason why.
As a result, it’s likely that UK airport passengers will see no change before the end of 2011. As covered in previous Airport International News Items, dedicated airport liquid scanning technologies are in development, but have not yet been deployed.
That fact was emphasised by the Airline Operators Association, whose chief executive, Darren Caplan, stated: “Airports have always supported a lifting of the ban for the benefit of our passengers, to ensure they have a positive experience when they are travelling - but only when appropriate technology has been developed and properly tested.”
Had the UK airport liquid restrictions been removed, passengers using the UK as a connection point from one flight to another would have been able to carry duty-free liquids on board. That so long as they’d arrived on long-haul flights that originated outside the EU’s borders, and were set to fly to destination airports inside the EU.
Almost exactly 12 months ago, the EU ruled that the airport liquid security restrictions would remain until 2013. By that time, they will be in their eighth year of enforcement, having been introduced in 2006 following an attempt to deploy liquid explosives on transatlantic flights.
Since then, no bottles with a liquid content of over 100ml have been permissible and, even if under that figure, they’ve had to be displayed within a specific type of clear plastic bag.
The UK’s important role as a transfer hub for passengers in-between flights could, however, prompt the EU to reconsider its 2013 ban-lifting date. London Heathrow alone handles around 65 million passengers each year and, of these, close to ten per cent are transfer passengers.
Airport International will revisit the liquid bottle issue in future News Coverage.