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Airport authorities relax cosmetics ban

By Simon Pitman , 29-Sep-2006

Airport authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have relaxed safety rules for hand carry items on planes, bringing relief for many cosmetics companies that rely on duty free as a significant part of their annual sales.

US airport authorities this week confirmed that passengers would be able to carry shampoo, toothpaste, hand lotion and other liquids on board aircrafts on the basis that they are contained in packaging of less than 3oz and they are carried in clear zip-top plastic bags.

Likewise any item purchased at an airport retail outlet has to be contained in a clear, sealed plastic bag, with the purchase receipt also showing.

The move brings to an end a six-week ban by the US authorities, ordered on August 10, following the uncovering of an alleged bomb plot by British intelligence. The plot had targeted trans-Atlantic flights between the UK and the US.

"It will reduce passenger inconvenience," said Air Transport Association president James May.

However, despite the more relaxed approach from the US authorities, the British Airport Authorities are continuing to take a tougher stand. Currently BAA is maintaing tight rules for liquids and gels, which officially still have to be packed into luggage that is checked-in, while any purchases made in airport retail outlets should fit into hand carry items.

BAA is currently allowing passengers to carry solid cosmetics such as lipsticks and compacts inside hand carry luggage.

During the past six weeks Confusion has reigned following the security alert that initially forced airport authorities in both the US and the UK to place a total ban on a list of products that included all liquids as hand carry items.

Initially the ban affected sales of products at airport retail outlets, and since then confusion as to whether or not passengers could or could not buy fragrances and then carry them on board flights is said to have impacted sales.

The move led a number of the world's biggest cosmetic companies to warn of a possible impact on sales of premium fragrance and cosmetic ranges.

Indeed, Estee Lauder, which estimates that approximately 7 per cent of its annual $6bn in sales revenue is derived from airport retail outlets, drew attention to the fact that action by airport authorities to limit cosmetic on board aircrafts could have an impact on its current quarter.

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