A senior member of the European Parliament has voiced his concerns that UK airports are deliberately holding back on a lifting of the regulations on liquids for airline passengers because they do not want to spend money on new scanning equipment. Brian Simpson, head of the transport committee, said he did not believe that airports were refusing to relax the regulations on safety grounds but for economic reasons.
The Airport Operators Association said it was not yet convinced that the scanners, which cost around £50,000 each, were capable of doing a good enough job and that it was not prepared to risk passenger safety until it was certain.
The EU had hoped to have a partial lifting of the restrictions in place by the end of April for transit passengers. However, many member states refused to comply on the grounds of national security. A complete lifting of the liquids ban is scheduled for 2013, but Mr Simpson said he did not believe that airports would comply and would use the same excuses.
The UK government said that it had decided against easing the restrictions because of security threats. It said that it was still committed to the lifting of the ban in 2013, but added that this would depend on any threats to security at the time.
The Airport Operators Association said that it was aware that passengers who were asked to dispose of liquids such as perfume, alcohol and sun tan cream before boarding a flight were frustrated, but added that safety was the top priority.