With the introduction of new 3D scanners, passengers at Malta’s airport will no longer have to take their liquids and electronics out of their hand luggage at security checks next year, as the new technology will show more detailed images of baggage.

The new scanners will also lead to scrapping the airport’s 100ml liquid rule: passengers will no longer have to place small toiletries in a plastic bag and may even pack a bottle of wine and water in their hand luggage.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Malta International Airport’s chief executive said the company has already issued quote requests from seven scanner providers.

“This is a very expensive technology, it’s new on the market, and so a lot of airports are after it. But we have already issued a request for quotes from seven of the providers of this technology,” Alan Borg told Times of Malta.

At security checks, passengers are currently required to remove items such as laptops, tablets and liquids from their hand luggage for screening.

Liquid items, such as soap, toothpaste, creams, aerosol and gels, are allowed in hand luggage but cannot exceed 100ml. Containers not exceeding 100ml are to be placed in a transparent re-sealable bag before flying out.

Failure to follow these rules could result in the automatic dumping of these liquid items, much to the frustration of passengers, who are then forced to buy replacements at more expensive departure lounge outlets. 

The local security area currently has six scanners. Borg said he hopes to have two of the new 3D scanning machines in place by the first quarter of 2024.

“Customer experience for us is fundamental and hopefully you will be travelling through Malta airport without having to worry about liquids and laptops.”

The new scanners use computer tomography technology to produce a 3D image of the luggage content, giving a security officer a clearer picture of what is inside the bag and the ability to rotate the images for more detailed inspections.

This might not be news for a number of global trotters, who might have experienced the high-tech baggage scanners at other international airports.

In the US, New York’s John F. Kennedy implemented the high technology back in 2018 while and a number of European airports, such as Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, have also introduced 3D scanners, making the process of security smoother for travellers.

The UK government announced a June 2024 deadline for all large airports to install these new scanners and Irish airports in Dublin and Cork are currently trialling them. The hope is that all Irish airports will implement the new technology by next year.

The 100ml liquid limit was introduced in 2006 in response to a foiled terrorist plan to smuggle liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks onto aircraft flying from the UK to the US and Canada.

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