London City Airport to lead UK charge on overturning liquid limits

CT scanners will also mean laptops no longer need to be taken out for separate examination

London City Airport said it will be one of the first airports in the UK to offer CT scanners. EPA
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Passengers flying through London City Airport could see liquid limits scrapped from as early as April next year.

The east London airport is trialling a security lane equipped with next-generation computerised tomography (CT) baggage scanners.

It plans to introduce the machines, similar to those used in hospitals, on all its lanes by April, before a planned UK-wide roll-out for the summer of 2024, the airport said on Friday.

London city said it will be one of the first airports in the UK to offer CT scanners, which would also mean laptops no longer need to be take out for separate examination.

The restrictions were brought in after a foiled plot in August 2006 to bring down up to 10 passenger planes using explosives disguised as soft drinks.

Since then, passengers have been required to restrict liquids in bags carried on board flights to containers of no more than 100ml, which must be stored in clear plastic bags, amid security concerns. Laptops must also be removed for inspection.

London City is popular with business travellers for its short boarding times and proximity to both the City and Canary Wharf financial centres.

It was named as the airport with the quickest security queues, in a survey carried out by Which? consumer group.

Large UK airports are planning to install and begin using the CT scanners by mid-2024.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the airport was slowly rolling out the scanners.

“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,” he said.

A UK trial of the technology was announced in 2019, but was delayed when the Covid pandemic shut down most international travel.

Figures from the International Air Transport Association for September showed passenger traffic levels have only reached 73 per cent of pre-Covid levels.

The UK is not the first country to introduce the new technology.

Airports including Amsterdam Schiphol and Helsinki, as well as several in the US, have CT baggage scanners that generate a 3D image that can be viewed and rotated on three axes. The technology is already in use at Shannon airport in Ireland.

Updated: November 25, 2022, 6:02 PM