The European Commission has postponed a deadline of April 2013 for the removal of current restrictions surrounding the carrying of liquids in hand luggage on airlines.
The commission said that it had reached the decision “based on results of trials carried out at a number of EU airports and on extensive consultations with a wide group of stakeholders”.
It added that “The risk posed by liquid explosives to civil aviation is still significant” and said that its assessment “indicates that the removal of the LAGs [liquids, aerosols and gels] restrictions on April 2013, as currently envisaged in EU law, could present a considerable operational risk mainly due to the scale of the change”.
However the commission also said that “Liquid Explosive Detection Systems manufacturers have made considerable progress in recent years to develop instruments which can adequately address this risk”, and concluded “Faced with security and operational risks and the need to safeguard passenger interests, a phased approach will be necessary to introduce the screening of LAGs”.
It recommends that from January 2014 “passengers should be able to carry on board all duty free LAGs provided that they are screened”, and says that it will then “bring forward proposals for subsequent phases to achieve the final objective of screening all LAGs at the earliest possible date”.
To this end the commission says it will “bring forward proposals to amend the existing legislation on LAGs in Autumn 2012, with the agreement of the Member States and the European Parliament”.
Airports Council International Europe said the decision had received support from Europe’s airports, with director general Olivier Jankovec commenting:
“As much as we would like to get rid of the existing restrictions on the carriage of LAGs, the trials carried out at several European airports have shown that the technology allowing for that just isn’t there yet. Further progress is needed to develop more mature and robust technology fully geared for operational reality and effectively improving the passenger experience.”
Restrictions on the carrying of liquids in hand luggage were introduced in August 2006, following the discovery of a plot to detonate liquid explosives carried on aircraft travelling from the UK to the United States and Canada.
Report by Mark Caswell