News | Sunday, 25 October 2009

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Airport ban on liquids could take as long as 2014

The ban on taking liquids in hand luggage onboard aircraft will no longer apply from April 2010, but will not be lifted before technological alternatives for the scanning of liquids are available – earmarked for 2014.
The European Commission had previously stated that the measure was intended to be temporary, with a view to being replaced by suitable screening technology to identify liquid explosives carried in hand luggage.
However, security experts from all Member States maintain that the threat of an attack on aircraft using liquid explosives remains and is significant, a position shared by the Commission and recently confirmed by the judgment of a UK Court in relation to the terrorist plot, discovered in August 2006, to attack aircraft departing from Heathrow Airport.
A limited range of technological solutions to screen for liquid explosives at security checkpoints is close to being ready for deployment at airports, but the EC claims these technological solutions will not be completed by April 2010, and in any case cannot be installed in airports by that date.
“As such, the potential consequence of the ban's expiry is a return to a pre-August 2006 situation, and thus the exposure to a terrorist attack using liquid explosives would increase,” the Commission said.
The EC says it would be more appropriate to phase out the ban in steps. This would have deliverables both in the short-term, by making use of the technological solutions as they become available, and in the medium term, by removing the ban on liquids completely.”
A phased approach could consist of three parts: as a first step, by 29 April 2010 liquids, aerosols and gels obtained at a third country airport or on board an aircraft of a non-Community air carrier shall be permitted into security restricted areas and on board an aircraft, under certain conditions. This first step will notably improve the situation of passengers in transfer having bought at duty-free shops.
As a second step, by 29 April 2012 all airports handling at least 10 million departing passengers per annum shall have the capability to screen liquids, aerosols and gels in accordance with European regulations. Finally, by 29 April 2014 all airports must have the capability to screen liquids, aerosols and gels.
“Such an approach should not prevent airports from installing equipment at an earlier date, provided that the equipment meets the standards set by the Commission,” the EC said. “This way, airports would be able to facilitate the carriage of liquids by departing passengers by equipping, for example, one security check lane with screening equipment for liquid explosives. Furthermore, some airports may choose to install advanced equipment more quickly.”

EU security rules at airports

You are only allowed to take small quantities of liquids in your hand luggage. These liquids must be in individual containers with a maximum capacity of 100 millilitres each. You must pack these containers in one transparent, re-sealable plastic bag of not more than one litre capacity per passenger.

At the airport

To help screeners detect liquids, you must:

present all liquids carried to the screeners at security checkpoints for examination;
take off your jacket and/or coat. They will be screened separately whilst you are screened;
remove laptop computers and other large electrical devices from your hand luggage. They will be screened separately whilst you are screened.

You can still:
pack liquids in bags that you check in – the new rules only affect hand luggage;
carry in your hand luggage medicines and dietary requirements, including baby foods, for use during the trip. You may be asked for proof that they are needed;
buy liquids such as drinks and perfumes either in an EU airport shop when located beyond the point where you show your boarding pass or on board an aircraft operated by an EU airline.

If they are sold in a special sealed bag, do not open it before you are screened – otherwise the contents may be confiscated at the checkpoint. (If you transfer at an EU airport, do not open the bag before screening at your airport of transfer, or at the last one if you transfer more than once).
All these liquids are additional to the quantities in the re-sealable plastic bag mentioned above.

Liquids include:
water and other drinks, soups, syrups; creams, lotions and oils; perfumes, sprays, gels, including hair and shower gels; contents of pressurised containers, including shaving foam, other foams and deodorants; pastes, including toothpaste; liquid-solid mixtures; mascara and any other item of similar consistency.


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