By Martin Banks - 15th February 2011
Adequate technology is available
EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas has signalled that he will press ahead in April with the first phase in lifting security restrictions currently applied by the EU to liquids, aerosols and gels at Europe's airports.
He said this was "an essential step" towards April 2013 when the full ban will be lifted.
In a special meeting of parliament's transport and tourism committee in Strasbourg, the Estonian official told MEPs the commission "will not yield to attempts to undermine the current deadline of April 2011 for the first phase".
His comments confirm that Europe's airports have two months to comply with the controversial change in airport security restrictions for transit passengers carrying liquids in hand luggage.
It means that from 29 April, transit passengers, beginning journeys in a non-EU country but taking a connecting flight inside the EU, will be able to keep any liquids purchased at the airport or onboard their first flight in their hand luggage, provided that it is in a sealed tamper-proof clear bag with proof of purchase attached.
The move is designed to end the process of transit passengers being forced to give up duty-free purchases before taking a connecting flight.
UK S&D deputy Brian Simpson, chairman of parliament's transport committee, welcomed the announcement.
He said, "Kallas has now confirmed that adequate technology is available and that airports should begin introducing it.
"I have maintained a firm position on enforcing the existing regulation, which is very clear that all EU airports must begin lifting the restrictions for passengers carrying liquids in hand luggage starting in April this year.
"Parliament and commission have both been under pressure from airports and airlines to maintain the bans and we have received contradictory advice from the aviation industry and the security machinery manufacturers."