food / travel

Airport Ban On Liquid Carry-Ons May End, As Europe Tests New Security Measures

Zurich Airport is among the first to begin to test two devices that can detect dangerous liquids. In the future, all of Europe hopes to gradually relax its strict bans on liquids in carry-on luggage.

Left-behind water bottles have become common airport scenery (chelzerman)
Left-behind water bottles have become common airport scenery (chelzerman)
Jan Derrer and Franziska Kohler

ZURICH - Each day, Zurich Airport confiscates more than 600 kilograms worth of drinks, perfumes, and creams from its passengers. That should all change soon: starting this week, municipal police will be testing two new devices that can automatically distinguish between dangerous and inoccuous liquids in passenger hand luggage.

Anyone who successfully passes this inspection will be able to take his or her liquids on board. Currently, travelers may carry only 100-milliliter containers of liquids or creams with them.

Until late February, an additional line will be added to the security checkpoint in the airport. Here, two devices will examine the liquids found in passenger luggage. The first device, unlike traditional screening devices, sounds an alarm when it detects any hazardous liquids. The second device conducts a more detailed analysis of each bottle. Here, flammable or explosive liquids such as methylated spirits or petrol will be detected and removed from circulation.

The test is being conducted by Zurich Airport AG in cooperation with the airport police, and will be led by the Federal Office of Aviation (FOCA). The entire project falls under the direction of the European Aviation Safety Agency, and involves twelve other European airports.

Many passengers at the Zurich Airport will not notice the test. The new units will only be run four days a week, for a period of four to five hours each day. The airport police hopes to gain insight into the flow of passengers as well as the extra time and manpower that the new security controls will require.

"We cannot yet estimate whether these tests will lead to delays in the security check process," says Fritz Marti, head of the Control Department of the Zurich cantonal police.

Once the test is concluded, its findings will be forwarded to the responsible EU authorities, where all changes to existing safety regulations will be decided.

Stefan Conrad, airport chief, says the long-term goal is to ease the strict regulation of liquids permitted in passenger carry-on luggage. The restrictions have been in place since August 2006, when a plot was foiled to detonate liquid explosives on a transatlantic flight.

Read the original article in German

Photo - chelzerman

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