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Scanners that sniff out liquid bombs will ease airport ordeal

THE days of pouring shampoo into tiny containers and grudgingly surrendering water bottles at the airport boarding gate are numbered.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is preparing to install new security equipment for scanning hand luggage at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports that will allow passengers to carry unlimited quantities of liquids, aerosols and gels.

The relaxation of EU regulations officially comes into force at the end of April 2013, although member states can introduce upgraded screening equipment before then if they wish.

A spokesman for DAA said they are tendering for scanners to meet the 2013 deadline.

The scanners will be able to detect liquid explosives, even if they are packed away in a case.

This will mean air passengers will no longer have to present their miniature toiletries separately in plastic bags and can instead pack everything in their hand luggage.

Various types of scanners have been developed to combat the perceived terrorist threat in recent years, including ones that use X-ray or MRI scans to identify liquids.

While the tendering process brings hope to passengers intending to travel through Irish airports, the scanners were not expected to be in operation in time for the summer holiday season.

No date was given for the expected roll-out.

The initial restriction on liquids was rushed in by the EU in 2006, following an apparent terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives on flights to the US.

It quickly became the bane of short-haul air passengers who were travelling without expensive checked bags.

It meant passengers were limited to carrying liquids of no more than 100ml per container in their hand luggage. And all containers had to fit inside a single resealable plastic bag measuring 20cm by 20cm

However, in 2010 the European Commission announced it was "now time to put an end to the restrictions on liquids, aerosols and gels" after technological advances in scanning equipment.

Duty-free sales among long-haul passengers were expected to rise following the lifting of the restriction.

At present, passengers who change flights at an EU airport must surrender their liquids.

In the first few years after the restriction was introduced, security staff at Dublin Airport confiscated tens of thousands of bottles of spirits, wines, beers, champagne and perfume from passengers.

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