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Airport Security Scanners

Volume 742: debated on Thursday 14 December 2023

12. What recent discussions he has had with airport operators on the introduction of new security scanners by June 2024. (900659)

The Secretary of State has visited many airports to discuss the upgrading of airport security, and has seen the new security equipment in operation. I know that my predecessor engaged regularly with airport representatives to seek reassurances on timescales for the next generation security checkpoint. Most recently, I met Heathrow’s chief executive for discussions. I can reassure the House that I will continue this good work, and will shortly meet representatives of the aviation sector to discuss the matter further. There are many visits already in the diary; indeed, I will be meeting the Airport Operators Association straight after this session. My Department—

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer, and I welcome him to his new role.

This new technology will greatly improve passenger experience at airport security. For example, it will obviate the need for those little plastic bags we all love putting our liquids into. Airports are worried about potential delays if the passenger scanners are introduced in one go for every passenger, as people will need to get used to the new technology. May I urge the Minister to discuss with the airport operators the phased introduction of the new scanners, to remove the possibility of delays?

I thank the Chair of the Select Committee for his question, which he asked when I gave evidence to the Committee yesterday. I said he would have to wait until today for my answer.

This new technology will bring huge benefits for passengers, as my hon. Friend said—I think we will all be delighted to see the end of putting our little bottles into those little plastic bags—and it will improve safety. The screening of passengers with these security scanners is already being phased in. The Government have long been clear with airports about the requirement for next-generation security checkpoints, and the deadline for implementation has already been delayed several times, partly because of covid and other factors. Airports were consulted on the June 2024 deadline, and many have successfully trialled the scanners. They are already phasing them in, and June 2024 is the end deadline. My message to the airports is that they should start implementing them now; they should not wait for the deadline. I will discuss it with the Airport Operators Association in our meeting immediately after questions.