Speaking at the ACI (Airport Council International) annual world assembly in Cape Town, director general Robert J Aaronson (pictured above) said that while ACI believes the European Commission has taken a positive step in adopting a uniform approach for Europe, there are still major issues to be resolved internationally.
Airports are concerned that without harmonisation the new ruling will have a serious impact on airport facilities and systems, operational processes, passenger service levels and duty-free retail concessions.
As things stand passengers leaving the UK can only take one bag, up to a specified size, through security. Typically from the United States the allowance, once again to a specified size, is two items. ABTN notes that whilst from the British side these are rules set by the Department for Transport, the indications are that BAA and other airport operators have used their influence to ensure that only a single item is allowed through reducing the amount of searching required and hence the cost of security.
With most duty free purchases there are only local custom restrictions, another bonus for the airport operator. ACI pointed out that passengers at EU airports can take liquid items in cabin luggage, provided the liquid is in containers smaller than 100 ml and all containers are able to fit into a transparent sealable bag of no larger than 1 litre.
The European rules also say that liquids over 100mls purchased on the same day of travel at airports in Europe are permitted through European security checks. Duty free and other airport retailers will use special tamper proof bags to facilitate this process.
But one constraint that has far reaching implications is that passengers will not be allowed to carry duty free items that have been purchased outside the European Union zone through a European transfer point.
"There is a risk that passengers will be confused by the differences between intra-European and international allowances, and they will certainly be frustrated if items are confiscated at security checkpoints. At a time when our industry is striving to achieve ever greater efficiency and cost effectiveness, we must energetically address this issue that affects passengers, airports and airlines," said Aaronson.