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BAA says cosmetics restrictions here indefinitely

By Simon Pitman , 28-Aug-2006

Tough restrictions on the carrying on board of cosmetics products will remain firmly in place as long as the UK government maintains the current security status for the country.

"We are looking at the wider issue and the most important factor is to maintain safety levels at all the airports we oversee in the UK," said Mark Mann, a spokeperson for the British Airport Authorities (BAA).

"We are working in conjunction with the British Transport Police and it is their authority that dictates what restrictions apply according to the level of security alert," Mann added.

Last week the government announced a reduction in the security level at UK airports from critical to severe, which led to widespread confusion amongst passengers traveling from UK airports. Many though that the reduction in security levels meant that they could go back to hand carrying cosmetics on board flights.

But Mann says that any confusions has now been overcome and that now queues at airport security checks are smaller and moving faster as a result of the dissemination of information to passengers making clear what passengers can and cannot carry on board.

"With regards cosmetics and toiletry products, we decided to make it clear-cut and have banned all products. Confusion arose from an initial ban that prevented passengers hand carrying gels and liquids on board. To prevent confusion we banned all personal care products."

Perhaps the biggest impact to the cosmetic industry is the fact that passengers can no longer buy cosmetic products in UK airport lounges and take them on board flights. "This restrictions also remains firmly in place and is likely to do so as long as the current security level is retained," Mann said.

BAA owns and runs seven airports in the UK, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stansted.

According to reports some of these airports have been a little more relaxed about implementing the full restrictions, particularly those related to the purchase of duty-free goods. Indeed at Birmingham International Airport, which is not owned by BAA, certain cosmetics products have been allowed through as hand carry items.

The restrictions have already prompted share prices in two leading cosmetic players, Elizabeth Arden and Estee Lauder, to drop on fears that the current restrictions, which have also been in force in other international airports, could effect sales.

The UK terror threat came about after British intelligence intercepted an alleged bomb plot which led to the arrest of 24 suspects on August 10.

According to reports a group of politically-motivated terrorist had plotted to blow up a number of airplanes in mid-flight from the UK to the US using liquid explosives.

Evidently these liquid explosives can be concealed in hand luggage and are also difficult to detect as an explosive using standard security measures. What's more, they can be easily disguised as every day cosmetic items, from a bottle of shampoo, to a fragrance bottle or even toothpaste.

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