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By Katy Austin & Chris Newlands
Transport correspondent & business reporter

The government has allowed major airports to miss the latest deadline for installing security scanners to end the 100ml limit on liquids.

London Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester airports are all expected to miss the 1 June rollout date, the BBC understands.

It means many passengers will have to keep taking liquids and laptops out of hand luggage this summer, potentially for another 12 months.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the delays were for “genuine” reasons.

Airports had to apply individually for year-long extensions which could mean passengers may have to continue removing items from their luggage until June 2025.

The DfT would not reveal which airports had been granted extensions or for how long. The Civil Aviation Authority will impose financial penalties on airports that keep missing deadlines, the DfT said.

The rules requiring liquids to be taken through security, in containers of 100ml or less in a clear plastic bag, were introduced in 2006 after a plot to bomb a transatlantic flight was foiled.

The new scanners use CT X-ray technology to provide 3D images so items can be left inside bags and liquids up to two litres will be permitted.

They are already used in some other countries including the US, although ministers claim the UK is the first in the world to attempt such a wide-scale rollout.

Airports were originally told to bring in new scanners by 2022, before the deadline was moved to June this year.

Problems cited by airports include supply chain issues and the need for major construction to be carried out in order to have the scanners installed. The X-ray machines, similar to CT scanners used in hospitals, are very heavy and in some instances floors will need to be reinforced.


London Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester are all expected to need more time to finish installing the new equipment across all their lanes. London City and Teesside International airports meanwhile, are the first to install the scanners across all their security lanes and switched to the new liquids rules in April 2023.

A source pointed out that Heathrow has 146 security lanes, more than any other UK airport, and the installation process had to be carefully managed to avoid hindering the flow of passengers.

Managing director of Manchester Airport Chris Woodroofe was asked in a BBC interview last week what the rules would be this summer.

He said: “The vast majority of airports in the UK will still be in the process of switching out their scanners, just like we will be.

“So our message to passengers is please do come with your liquids in a liquid bag less than 100ml, and make sure you’re ready to get your laptops out.

“And if you turn up and you happen to be in one of the new lanes, and we have some in this terminal, then that’s great.”

Consumer group Which? said the extensions risk causing confusion for passengers over the summer period as many may expect the hand luggage security rules to have been changed at all UK airports, only to find that is not the case.

Passengers are also being advised to check the rules on liquids and devices at their destination or transfer airports before they fly in case the old rules are still in place there.

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22 January