Airports 100ml limit to remain next summer despite pledge to scrap rule

Liquid limit was introduced after terrorist plot to smuggle explosives in drinks was foiled
Liquid limit was introduced after terrorist plot to smuggle explosives in drinks was foiled - Kinga Krzeminska

Airport liquid security restrictions are expected to remain in place next summer for many holidaymakers despite Government pledges to scrap the 100ml rule.

Mark Harper, the transport secretary, has given airport operators until June to install high-tech 3D scanners at security checkpoints, allowing 100ml bottles of fluids to be taken onboard.

The technology would also mean passengers do not have to remove laptops, tablets and cameras from their hand luggage.

However, major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester are falling behind schedule to outfit the technology, The Times newspaper reported, citing several sources.

Heathrow bosses reportedly told the Civil Aviation Authority that it will be “difficult to deliver” in the Department for Transport (DfT) by June, citing the extensive work needed to reinforce the floors in some terminals.

The airport is expected to not have finished the project until 2025.

Industry experts reportedly believe any changes to the restrictions will be delayed to stop holidaymakers from being confronted with conflicting rules next summer.

A source told The Times: “It’s going to be a struggle for the big airports. One of the biggest issues they face is fitting the new scanners and retraining staff without impacting the flow of passengers.”

Another said: “Messaging is going to be the biggest issue. At airports where there are a mix of machines it makes sense to tell passengers to only come with 100ml liquids. It will be good fortune for those that find themselves on CT lanes and can keep everything in their bags.”

A spokesman for Heathrow said it was spending £1 billion on the upgrades and that it was focused on delivering the programme as “quickly as practically possible”.

Gatwick reportedly expects to have made “significant progress” by June but “plans to have completed the major logistical operation required to install the remaining scanners in Q1 2025”.

A spokesman for Manchester Airports Group, which includes Stansted, said: “We continue to make good progress at our airports on the introduction of new security screening equipment, as part of the UK-wide programme.

“This is a complex programme of work requiring the expansion of terminal facilities, while at the same time maintaining operations during construction. We are rolling out the new technology lane by lane at Manchester and London Stansted airports, with several new lanes already in operation.”

Since 2006, passengers have been restricted to carrying 100ml bottles of liquid in their hand luggage, and they must fit inside a small clear bag measuring no more than 20cm x 20cm.

The rules were introduced after an al-Qaeda plot in 2006 to smuggle explosives disguised as drinks onto seven planes departing from Heathrow was foiled.

Travellers often fall foul of some of the rules and this leads to delays at security.

Many people in recent years have either become skilled at filling small bottles with shampoo and shower gel or accepted their fate of buying toiletries in stores after passing security.