Screening for laptops will also be updated
Security restrictions in the UK on both liquids and laptops in airport hand luggage could be axed within two years. The UK government is considering rolling out more advanced 3D scanners to ease the screening process.
Although the move is yet to be confirmed, the government is reviewing new equipment, similar to CT scanners used in hospitals, that would provide a clearer picture of a bag's contents. The new technology enables security staff to zoom in on a bag's contents and rotate the images for inspection.
The 3D scanners have been trialled at London Heathrow Airport since 2017. Ministers hope that the move could cut queues in UK airports.
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Since November 2006, passengers carrying liquids in their cabin baggage have been restricted to containers holding no more than 100ml. These must be shown to security staff in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures about 20cm by 20cm.
Liquids in cabins pose a security risk, which became evident when British police detected a terrorist plot in which explosives has been hidden in drinks bottles.
Speaking to The Times newspaper, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "We are slowly rolling them out. We have just started the expansion of the security area in Terminal 3, which will have more CT scanners and have a deadline of mid-2024 from the [Department for Transport]. By then the normal passenger experience will be that liquids stay in bags."
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IATA director general Willie Walsh added: "We would welcome a decision by the UK government to roll out the new 3D hand baggage screening equipment across UK airports. In fact, the sooner the better - with smooth implementation supported by clear communication to passengers," he added, saying that the technology could also help deliver savings if it meant the check-in process was easier for passengers.
An announcement is expected before Christmas.