Following last year’s postponement of the initial Phase 1 deadline for the lifting of restrictions on LAGs, the European Commission announced that April 2013 would serve as the final deadline for removing all restrictions on LAGs. To ensure that that deadline was achievable, the EC commissioned an independent study by Booz & Co (now a part of Leigh Fisher) on the matter, which included detailed trials and surveys carried out at a number of EU airports.
Last April, the European Commission (EC) took delivery of this study, which ultimately deemed that the April 2013 deadline was ‘not operationally feasible’. The EC subsequently presented the report’s findings to the European Parliament’s Transport & Tourism Committee and the European Council as well, proposing to postpone the April 2013 deadline.
The EC’s announcement to postpone was made on 18 July and immediately received support from Europe’s airports. Underlining the complexity of the LAGs issue, ACI EUROPE stated that this revised approach should ultimately improve the passenger experience and safeguard the integrity of airport operations.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE commented “As much as we would like to get rid of the existing restrictions on the carriage of LAGs, the trials carried out at several European airports have shown that the technology allowing for that just isn’t there yet. Further progress is needed to develop more mature and robust technology fully geared for operational reality and effectively improving the passenger experience. We support the approach proposed today and look forward to further cooperation with the Commission, Member States and the European Parliament.”
The proposed postponement was accompanied by a roadmap for the progressive removal of the LAGs restrictions. This roadmap will be determined in cooperation with the EC’s European and international partners – including industry stakeholders. As a sign of the renewed level of commitment from all sides, a Statement of Intent was signed by the EC, the United States’ Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and a number of industry stakeholders, including ACI EUROPE. This group is now actively working to determine the scope of the LAGs for screening, on the basis that the second phase will not be scheduled until the first phase has been completed successfully.
Announcing the postponement, Vice-President Kallas’ cabinet stated “Faced with security and operational risks and the need to safeguard passenger interests, a phased approach will be necessary to introduce the screening of LAGs. Starting in January 2014, the Commission recommends that passengers should be able to carry on board all duty free LAGs provided that they are screened. In the light of the experience gained and in close cooperation with its European and international partners, the Commission will then bring forward proposals for subsequent phases to achieve the final objective of screening all LAGs at the earliest possible date.”
In the immediacy, the existing LAGs legislation needs to be amended, which will need to be achieved before April 2013, and which also requires the agreement of the Member States and the European Parliament.