Airport security queues should soon become less stressful for passengers since these will be able to keep liquids and laptops in their hand baggage when new 3D scanners are introduced.

Malta International Airport has recently undertaken a significant investment of around €2.5 million in computer tomography (CT) technology for the screening of all hold luggage and is currently in the process of installing the first CT scanning machine.

The CT scanners, used in hospitals to scan patients, produce more detailed images that allow security staff to assess cabin bags with electronic equipment and liquids inside.

The technology is expected to lead to a relaxation of current rules, which state that passengers can only carry liquids such as toiletries or medicine in individual containers of 100ml or less, with the items placed in a separate, clear plastic bag to pass through security.

The changes should mean shorter queuing times as well as reduce plastic waste.

The 100ml liquid limit was introduced after terrorists tried to blow up transatlantic jets with explosives hidden in soft drinks bottles in 2006.

There are hopes that the improved technology could potentially end the liquids ban altogether. However, abolition would likely require the scanners to be installed at all airports, an expensive process that could take several years.

Expansion project will see the terminal occupy a larger footprint

The CT technology is used in some airports in Europe and the US – including Heathrow in London, Amsterdam’s Schipol and JFK in New York. Heathrow became the first UK airport to instal the scanners, which it started testing in 2017.

“This technology will help the airport continue to deliver upon its promise of providing each and every guest with a safe and secure experience, while being compliant with the provisions of the European Commission regulation governing civil aviation security,” Lorna Refalo, Malta International Airport’s communications executive, told Times of Malta.

These provisions stipulate that, by 2020, every European airport should adopt more advanced hold baggage screening capabilities, among which is CT scanning technology.

On the other hand, MIA is still analysing how computer tomography is performing in airports that have already implemented this technology for hand luggage, Ms Refalo noted.

“With service excellence being a core value for the company, the airport is also seeking to get an understanding of whether said technology is contributing to a better passenger experience,” she remarked.

The ultimate aim of this analysis is the eventual integration of CT screening technology into a wider system that is geared at further enhancing the experience of passengers when passing through the security channel at MIA.

This analysis forms part of the company’s feasibility studies for its ambitious terminal expansion project, detailed plans for which are currently being drafted.

The expansion project will see the terminal occupy a larger footprint, which will furnish the airport with more circulation space and increased space for the introduction of additional check-in desks and more gates.

Further details about this project are expected to be released in the new year.

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