The ban on liquids being carried in hand luggage through British airports could be lifted as early as next year should government tests into scanners that detect harmful liquids prove successful.
“The technology is there which will allow these scanners not only to test for liquids but also to determine if those liquids are dangerous or not,” a security industry source told The Independent newspaper.
“At the moment, that technology is being tested by the security services and when they are happy that it works, the ban will be lifted.”
The aviation industry is keen to see a change in the restrictions, brought in after intelligence experts believed they had foiled a plot to blow up airliners with liquid bombs in August 2006.
Yesterday, Virgin Atlantic said the “time may now be right” for a shift in the security rules.
The pleas come after the trial of eight men over an alleged plot to use soft drinks bottles disguised as homemade bombs to blow up planes flying across the Atlantic.
Fears that a similar attack could be attempted prompted the restrictions on liquids in hand luggage.
Current regulations state that bottles containing more than 100ml of liquid cannot be carried in hand luggage. However the measures have cost up to £200m in extra security measures, whilst airlines complain they make UK airports less attractive to passengers.
Four UK airports including Heathrow have bought scanners that will detect dangerous liquids and more are on order. It is believed the Government will not lift the restrictions until all major airports have the new technology.