UK to defer airline liquids change

The UK is to defer a European-ordered partial lifting of restrictions on the carrying of liquids in airline hand luggage on security grounds, it was announced today.

The lifting of the restrictions, which would only apply to passengers transiting UK airports from outside the European Union (EU), had been due on April 29.

But Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said that "in the light of the continuing high (security) threat" he was continuing the current liquids regime until the autumn.

The April 29 partial lifting of restrictions would have had no effect on the vast majority of British air travellers unless they were flying, for example, from South Africa to Australia, via London.

However, Brian Simpson MEP, chairman of the European Parliament's Transport Committee, which has overseen the introduction and partial lifting of the liquids rule, said he was disappointed with Mr Hammond's decision.

Mr Simpson said: "Travellers will now face unnecessary confusion when flying in Europe, with different rules in place at different airports if the UK continues to not comply with the EU regulation.

"As Heathrow carries millions of transfer passengers, the knock-on effect across Europe will be highly disruptive for other airports, carriers and travellers.."

The full lifting of restrictions on liquids is due in April 2013.