Britain is set to remain the only nation in the European Union to retain its restrictions on carrying liquids. European transport minister are meeting in Luxembourg next Friday when they are expected to lift the 100 ml limit, but the UK is expected to opt out.
The first stage of the EC proposals would come into force next April, and would mean transfer passengers from outside the EU would no longer have to surrender liquids they bought from duty free shops at the start of their journey if they were changing planes. The next stage would see the scrapping of the 100 ml limit at major airports by April 2012, followed by a European-wide lifting two years after that.
The proposals follow intense lobbying by manufacturers of scanners, such as Smiths Industries, who claim they now have technology in place that enables passengers and their hand luggage to be screened for potentially dangerous liquids.
But airports are understood to be opposed and airlines remain sceptical as to whether the technology is yet in place. The Department for Transport also remains unconvinced.
“We have always said that current restrictions must remain in place until technology solutions which provide robust detection performance and a better passenger experience become available,” a spokesman told The Telegraph.
“We do not believe April 2010 is a realistic target for the introduction of technology to screen duty free liquids carried by transfer passengers.”
A complete ban on taking liquids and gels was imposed following a plot to down transatlantic aircraft in August 2006.
The ban was later eased with passengers being told that they could not put liquids in containers bigger than 100 ml into their hand luggage.
However this has exacerbated security queues at airports because of the need to screen passengers’ hand luggage before allowing them on aircraft.
Some airports, including Manchester, have been accused of cashing in on heightened anti-terrorism measures by charging passengers for plastic security bags.