London, Sep 10: The British Government is reportedly planning to lift the ban on liquids being carried by passengers in their hand bags by early next year, as over the past two years (since the ban was imposed in August 2006), the country had been incurring heavy costs to the tune of 'tens of millions' of pounds in paying for the nearly 3000 extra staff posted at different airports for frisking passengers for liquids in hand bags.
The British administration is holding discussions with security companies to install security gadgets at the airports to detect the liquids carried by 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.
According to The Independent, modern technology already deployed at the Heathrow Airport's new Terminal 5 can automatically detect the presence of liquids in carry-on bags. Now, the government scientists are running tests to see if the scanners could be adapted to pick out those that are harmful.
"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. 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 paper quoted a security source as saying.
According to the paper, the aviation industry is keen to see a change in the restrictions imposed in August 2006 after intelligence experts believed they had foiled a plot to blow up airliners with liquid bombs. Only on Tuesday, Sep 9, Virgin Atlantic said the 'time may now be right' for a change in the security rules. "We have been calling for a review of the rules for a long time, along with many other airlines and airport operators," said Paul Charles, Virgin's head of communications.
He added: "When you go to airports at the moment, you can see the confusion, with many people still bringing too many liquids. We believe that things could be made simpler for the public, to ensure the same rules are in place wherever you are traveling from in the world."
The current restrictions, which limit the volume of liquid that could be carried by travellers in their hand luggage, has cost airport operators tens of millions of pounds to enforce. Airlines have complained that the rules make the UK's hubs less attractive to passengers, while analysts put the total cost of the liquid bomb plot to the industry at as much as 200 million pounds.
Current rules dictate that bottles containing more than 100 ml of liquid cannot be carried in hand luggage, while the amount of hand luggage that can be restrictions, which limit the volume of liquid that can be carried by travellers in their hand luggage, has cost airport operators tens of millions of pounds to enforce.