UK Air Travel Rules Likely To Ease Next Week

September 13, 2006

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The UK government is likely to announce an easing of air travel rules next week after security was tightened last month in the wake of what police said was a foiled plot to bomb airliners.

"We intend to announce new regulations next week," a spokesman for the Department for Transport (DfT) said on Wednesday.

A ban on liquids in hand luggage and smaller limits on the size of carry-on bags was imposed last month. Regarding this, the spokesman said, "We always said we would keep those (steps) under review."

A meeting of government and airline industry officials is set for Monday, and the DfT spokesman said an announcement on revised rules was likely later in the week.

Airport operator BAA, which owns London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, said it expected the restrictions to be eased within 24 hours of Monday's meeting.

"We welcome any move by the DfT which they feel is appropriate and has the added benefit of making passengers' journeys easier," a BAA spokesman said.

One airline source said that the government had indicated that the restrictions on luggage and liquids would be eased.

"We are expecting something to happen next week," the source said.

More than 2,000 flights were cancelled in Britain last month after the government ordered tighter checks on passengers and luggage.

British Airways estimated its lost revenues and the cost of hotel rooms for stranded passengers and of repatriating lost luggage at GBP40 million (USD$74.95 million).

Budget carriers such as Ryanair and in particular rely on rapid airport turnaround times to maximize profits.

"We strongly welcome a return to normal for all flights from the UK," a Ryanair spokesman said.

(Reuters)