EU airports may hold off liquid restriction lift

With barely two months remaining before the European Union is scheduled to partially lift a nearly five-year ban on liquids in air passenger hand luggage, airports across the region are balking at the approaching deadline, arguing that current liquid-explosive detection technology is still too unreliable.

 In recent months, trade groups representing hundreds of airports and dozens of airlines have quietly stepped up the pressure on the European Commission to abandon its plan for a gradual easing of restrictions. From April 29, the change would allow passengers passing through Europe from a third country to carry liquids, aerosols and gels purchased either at an airport duty-free shop or on board a non-European airline.

They are calling instead for the ban to remain in place until 2013, when Brussels has vowed to eliminate all cabin restrictions on such goods. “The existing technology is not fit for the purpose,” said Olivier Jankovec, the director general of the Airports Council International Europe, a lobbying group based in Brussels that represents more than 400 airports. “We risk paralyzing the big hubs.”

France has formally joined with the industry to seek a delay in enacting the new measures. Transportation officials from a half-dozen other governments have also approached the commission in recent weeks for reassurance that the new measures will not dilute air safety or cause undue disruption, people with knowledge of those discussions said.

Source: New York Times