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Case Studies

Case Study C4: Liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) measures

The Department's comprehensive campaign to implement enhanced security measures to limit the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) taken through international screening points by passengers flying to or from Australia has helped Australia and other nations to address a vulnerability in aviation security.

In August 2006, United Kingdom security services interrupted a terrorist operation that involved a plan to take concealed matter that could be used to construct an explosive device on board an aircraft on an international flight. Analysis of the foiled operation revealed a previously identified vulnerability with respect to the detection of liquid explosives.

In December 2006, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) released security control guidelines for screening liquids, aerosols and gels. The guidelines recommend that all ICAO member countries, including Australia, implement measures to restrict the carriage of liquids, aerosols and gels.

On 31 March 2007, a suite of appropriate restrictions came into effect in Australia. The restrictions affect 11 Australian international airports, 47 last port of call airports for passengers travelling to Australia, and 55 international airlines, and will apply to approximately 21 million passengers annually.

In summary, the new measures require that:

  • international passengers must carry all liquids, aerosols and gels in containers of 100 millilitres capacity or less;
  • containers must be placed in a transparent, resealable plastic bag of no more than 1 litre total capacity, which must be completely sealed;
  • only one plastic bag is allowed per passenger;
  • bulky overcoats must be removed; and
  • random and continual frisk searches of passengers will be undertaken.
Travellers study a brochure outlining the new rules.
Travellers study a brochure outlining the new rules. Displays including posters and brochures were tailored to meet individual airport needs and were prominently displayed in international terminals (Photo DOTARS)

Certain exemptions are made for medications and baby products.

Through the Department, the Australian Government consulted widely with the aviation industry and introduced the measures together with an extensive communication campaign, to ensure a smooth transition. The Department's work included:

  • publishing 14 million brochures, in English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Malay, and distributing them to airports (in Australia and in last ports of call), airlines, duty free outlets, and 4,500 travel agents;
  • producing 1,200 posters,1,700 counter top signs, 57,000 pocket cards, 36 banners and 5,000 information kits;
  • organising radio and television interviews; and
  • items in news bulletins and advertising in major metropolitan and regional newspapers.

A website page, dedicated hotline number and email address were also established, to ensure travellers had ready access to information.

The Department also distributed five million resealable plastic bags to the Australian international airports, and funded and facilitated training for 1,900 airport security screeners and customer service staff.

Airports report that the measures for liquids, aerosols and gels have been fully incorporated into their screening procedures, with minimal impact on passenger facilitation.

Industry Award

The LAGs campaign was awarded the prestigious Public Relations Institute of Australia (ACT) 2007 Award for Excellence for a Government Sponsored Campaign.

The goal of the campaign was to implement the new regulations while minimising passenger inconvenience and airport delays which might damage Australia's reputation.

A research-based communications campaign was developed and implemented over a four-month period and brought together several communications disciplines: public relations; market research; graphic design; advertising and media relations. The campaign engaged a host of industry and government stakeholders and used a range of tactics in a manner that exceeded expectations.

By the time the measures commenced on 31 March, surveys of the travelling public demonstrated a rapid rise in awareness. Seventy-seven per cent of those surveyed had heard of the new measures in general terms and 74 per cent claimed to be aware of the measures when more specific information about the specific LAGs restrictions was provided.

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