Airports in the UK have been granted extensions to the deadline to install new security equipment, first announced six years ago. 

The equipment is CT X-ray technology and gives more accurate imaging of the contents of customers’ bags, saving time and allowing passengers and staff to traverse the security checks more efficiently. 

They will also allow passengers to take liquid of more than 100ml through airport security, which they have not been able to do since 2006. 

However, despite the two-year deadline for the upgrades, “some UK airports” have failed to install the technology and have been allowed another 12 months to achieve the new standard. 

Not every airport in the UK is part of the plan with only “major” airports instructed to upgrade by June 2024 (now 2025). 

The Department of Transport refused to state which airports were given an extension, citing unexplained “national security” issues. Its spokesperson did confirm to Airport Technology this did not mean airports using the legacy systems were any less safe than those which did meet the deadline. 

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The Department said it would fine airports that do not meet the new schedule, but Transport Minister Mark Harper would have to introduce a new Aviation Security Act to legislate for the sanctions. 

This legislation is currently being “explored,” per a DfT statement, but would have to pass both Houses of the UK Parliament before any action could be taken. 

“We recognise that installing the new security equipment at busy airports has been a logistical challenge, with some airports having to undertake significant construction work to allow the new, extremely heavy equipment to be fitted. In some cases, airports have been required to construct entirely new screening halls,” the DfT said. 

Despite the delays, CEO of the Airport Operators Association (AOA) Karen Dee said “excellent progress” was being made. 

“Airports are making excellent progress in delivering these multimillion-pound investment programmes, which will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of aviation security in the years ahead.

“As with any programme of this complexity, there are significant challenges, and we are happy the government has recognised these and agreed to extend timeframes for delivery where necessary. By adopting this approach, airports can ensure that they are ready to welcome passengers over the upcoming holiday periods and that their journeys are safe, secure and smooth as we make this transition,” she added. 

“The UK is leading the world with its roll-out of this technology,” Minister Harper claimed. 

“But it’s important we give those airports yet to meet the deadline a second chance to get the job done. Until they do, passengers should continue to check before travelling,” he confirmed.