Wednesday, 16 February 2011

European airports to end restrictions on liquids in 2013

If Europeans were just starting to accept as a permanent part of reality the fact that you can't bring liquids onto a plane, they're going to feel like they've stepped back in time come April 2013 when the restrictions on liquids in airplanes is lifted in Europe.

Yesterday EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas confirmed to MEPs in Strasbourg that the EU will begin the transition back to the era of cruising the skies with as much liquid as you want in two months. The first phase will begin on 29 April this year, when travellers coming from outside the EU but connecting flights within the union will be able to keep liquids purchased at the original airport of their departure in their carry-on luggage. This should end the confusing situation where travellers were being told in countries outside the EU that they could carry their purchased liquids all the way to their final destination, only to have it confiscated at the EU airport they were transferring through. This is only the first step toward an eventual complete end to the ban two years later.

The phased transition was mandated by controversial EU legislation passed last year. The legislation requires EU airports to install new technology capable of detecting liquid explosives. Liquids are currently banned at European airports as a result of an EU regulation passed in October 2006. But airports and airlines have been putting pressure on the European Commission and Parliament to back off from their original timeframe, saying they cannot have the technology to scan liquids available in time.

But Kallas's comments yesterday signal that the commission intends to stick with its original timetable. The United States has no plans to end the restriction of liquids on planes.

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