EU ending airline liquids ban too soon - airports group

BRUSSELS Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:14pm GMT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is moving too quickly to lift a ban on airline passengers carrying liquids onto flights, the European airports association said on Wednesday, saying loosening the ban could endanger security.

Carrying more than 100 ml of liquid in hand luggage has been banned in Europe since 2006, after British police uncovered a plot to blow up trans-atlantic airliners bound for North America using bombs made from liquid explosives.

European airports association ACI Europe said lifting the ban for passengers originating outside the EU and passing through the 27-nation union would threaten aircraft security. It called the April deadline "overly ambitious."

"It's too soon based on the technology that is available," ACI Europe director-general Olivier Jankovec told Reuters after his group presented its concerns to EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas.

"We have carefully monitored the development of technology, but unfortunately what is available today is unfit for purpose.

"This needs to be done with the kind of technology that doesn't risk a decrease in passenger security and can keep up with the rate of passenger throughput."

In April, EU-bound passengers from non-EU countries will be allowed to take on board any liquids, aerosols and gels purchased at an airport in the preceding 36 hours. The move is a preliminary step for lifting the ban for all passengers in April 2013.

Three Britons were jailed for life in 2009 after being found guilty of plotting to destroy at least seven planes bound from British airports to the United States and Canada. The plot involved using explosives hidden in soft-drink bottles.

(Reporting by Eva Dou and Pete Harrison; Editing by Janet Lawrence)