Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the new minister for Aviation in the UK, has announced plans to review the way alcohol is sold in airports following a series of incidents involving drunken passengers.
Speaking on July 29, Lord Ahmad said, “If you’re a young family traveling on a plane you want to go from point A to B, you don’t want to be disrupted.
“I don’t think we want to kill merriment altogether, but I think it’s important that passengers who board planes are also responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers, and that certainly should be the factor which we bear in mind.
“In terms of specific regulations of timings of outlets [which sell alcohol]and how they operate, clearly I want to have a look at that.”
Recent incidents included a female passenger punching an EasyJet pilot after being ordered to leave the aircraft at Manchester Airport, and a stag party of six men who were arrested by German police at Berlin Schönefeld Airport after a mid-air brawl.
Last week, the British Air Transport Association (BATA) introduced a new Aviation Industry Code of Practice on Disruptive Passengers, which was signed by eight member airlines as well as several airports.
Responding to Lord Ahmad’s comments, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of BATA, said, “Last year over 251 million passengers passed through UK airports. Thankfully incidents of disruptive behavior are a very rare occurrence but where they do happen the impact can have serious consequences for fellow passengers, employees working in the air and at the airport, as well as for the disruptive passengers themselves. These incidents can be costly and cause delays. With air travel proving more popular than ever, and passenger numbers expected to rise across the whole of the UK in the coming years, now is the time to tackle this problem collectively.
“As an industry we take a zero tolerance approach to disruptive passenger behavior. That is why we have all – airlines, airports, duty-free retailers, bar and pub managers, and the police – come together to develop the voluntary Code of Practice.
“This sets out how we can work collectively and individually to further reduce incidents of disruptive behavior, and act to minimize the impact where they do occur despite our best combined efforts to prevent them. We are committed to ensuring passengers have a consistently safe and enjoyable experience when travelling and to providing a safe and pleasant work environment for our employees.
“Ultimately, we need the message to go out that all passengers are responsible for their own behavior and that causing disruption onboard an aircraft is an illegal offence which can carry a heavy penalty, such as a travel ban, fine, or even a prison sentence.”