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UK airport queues to be cut as government set to lift 100ml liquid ban

Andrew Woodcock
New tech will show a 3D image of bags' contents: iStock

Travellers could soon be spared the tedious ritual of emptying laptops and liquids from their luggage at security as UK airports prepare for the introduction of the latest generation of 3D scanners.

Under plans announced by the government, the cutting-edge technology will be rolled out over the next three years, with every major airport in the UK required to have it in place by the start of December 2022.

Unveiling the programme, Boris Johnson said it would help the UK maintain its position as a global hub for business and tourism after Brexit.

“We are home to the largest aviation network in Europe, with millions of people passing through our airports every year for work, holidays and family visits,” said Mr Johnson.

“We’re set to streamline those trips with the roll-out of this ground-breaking technology, cutting down hassle for travellers and improving security measures.

“By making journeys through UK airports easier than ever, this new equipment will help boost the vital role our airports play in securing the UK’s position as a global hub for trade, tourism and investment.”

Heathrow is already conducting trials of the new security equipment, with other airports due to join in.

As well as cutting queues at security, it is hoped the advanced imaging system will reduce plastic waste, by doing away with the need for passengers to place drinks, toiletries and medicines in see-through bags.

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The 3D scanners will give security staff a better view of the contents of cabin bags, allowing items to be left inside them for screening.

Once in place, it could mean the eventual lifting of the 100ml limit on liquids in hand luggage, first introduced after a failed terror attempt on a passenger jet in the wake of 9/11.

The chief executive of UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls, said the new scanners would bolster the UK’s reputation for being “traveller-friendly”.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO, said: “We’re proud to be at the forefront of this new generation security equipment. This technology will transform the passenger experience, making air travel simple, streamlined and more secure.”