Hand luggage liquid rule remains for summer holidays as scanners delayed

Passengers looking forward to heading off on summer holidays this year without their transparent bags of miniature bottles are set to be disappointed, as the end of the 100ml liquid rule is set to be delayed.

Airports were told by the Department for Transport in 2022 that they had until June 2024 to install next-generation CT scanners that allow oversize liquids to remain inside luggage.

However, the Department for Transport (DfT) will now allow the UK’s three busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester – to miss this deadline.

Despite the extension, a source told The Times newspaper that the airports must present a strong business case detailing a reason for the delay – and penalties have not been ruled out.

It is now anticipated the airports will have until 2025 to complete the project. While Gatwick and Manchester have confirmed they expect the rollout of its new scanners to be completed next year, Heathrow is yet to give a date for when the £1bn upgrade might be finished across all four of its terminals.

The new CT scanners, similar to those used in hospitals, will take high-resolution 3D images to check hand luggage for any dangerous items. Due to their size, airport’s security areas must be reconfigured and some floors will need to be reinforced because of their weight.

The delay is expected to cause chaos in airports across the UK this summer as passengers get confused by mixed messaging.

The 100ml liquid limit was imposed in 2006 to prevent explosives being carried onto planes.

Teesside Airport was the first UK airports to install CT scanners in 2022 and 2023, well ahead of the deadline. In April last year, London City Airport deployed them, enabling passengers to pass through security without removing laptops and liquids from their hand luggage.

A London City spokesperson told i: “The new CT security scanners have significantly improved our passenger experience – reducing security queue times on average by 50 per cent since we introduced them. They also process up to 30 per cent more passengers per hour due to the reduction in trays used.”

When airports such as Gatwick and Manchester will see the same benefits remains to be seen. “We are in regular contact with airports as they move towards the June 2024 deadline for upgrading their screening equipment and processes,” a DfT spokesman commented. “For security reasons we do not provide further detail around aviation security measures.”