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New air hand luggage rules come into force

Liquids will have to fit into containers that are 100ml or smaller, placed in a one-litre resealable transparent bag

(Keystone)

European Union aviation security rules, adopted by the Swiss, restricting the amount of liquids passengers can carry on board planes come into force on Monday.

The new regulations come after British police announced last August they had foiled a plot to bomb flights to the United States using liquid explosives.

Swiss officials announced in October that they had adopted the rules, following a decision by the EU to step up airline security.

"The Federal Aviation Office took this decision to follow the EU rules as it is convinced that in this case coordinated security measures across Europe are in the interest of the passengers," said the aviation office in a statement.

Passengers departing from the EU and Switzerland will be allowed to carry on small toiletry items such as toothpaste, contact lens solution and perfume, but not large drink containers, except those purchased after security checks.

Restrictions on the size of carry-on luggage are due to come into effect on April 17.

The regulations were speeded through following a temporary ban on liquids and gels after the security alert at London's Heathrow airport on August 10.

The new measures are widely expected to cause some disruption at Swiss airports. National airline Swiss has warned in a statement that longer queues could be expected and that passengers should arrive early.

Liquids

From Monday air travellers will be allowed to bring on board one resealable transparent plastic bag of a maximum size of one litre in which liquid items can be stored. Liquids will have to fit into containers that are 100ml or smaller. Certain exceptions will apply for medicines, baby food and other dietary needs.

The plastic bag containing liquids will have to be presented separately during security checks, as is also the case with portable computers and large electrical equipment.

But passengers will still be allowed to purchase duty-free alcohol or perfumes after having their hand luggage checked, as experts deem these shopping areas and products to be safe.

The rules limiting the size of individual items of hand luggage to 56cm by 45cm by 25cm will come into force in six months, allowing the industry time to prepare.

Exceptions will be possible for items such as musical instruments and cameras.

The EU says the new regulations will plug a gap in its defences by restricting the liquids that passengers can carry past screening points and on board aircraft.

Although standard in many countries, these minimum rules have not been force in all 25 EU member states. Countries are also free to adopt stricter measures, according to the EU.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

On August 10 a terror alert was issued at London's Heathrow airport following the discovery of a possible terrorist plan to blow up planes flying from Britain to the United States by smuggling bombs on board in hand luggage.

Security was tightened in airports in Britain, and airports in Switzerland also adapted to the situation.

Airlines introduced new security measures on direct flights to Britain and the US, in particular on hand luggage.

The security alert prompted a temporary ban on liquids and gels in hand luggage, while awaiting the new European regulations.

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