More than 400 airline passengers have been arrested on suspicion of being drunk in the past two years, an investigation has found.
Drunken travellers who sexually abused staff, urinated in public and were too intoxicated to fasten their seatbelts were among those held, police data shows.
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At Leeds Bradford Airport, police arrested 12 people on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport between April 1 2017 and March 31 this year.
In one episode, a 25-year-old man who had been drinking in a bar at the Yeadon airport while waiting for a delayed Ryanair flight was arrested when he “became abusive” in front of families after being denied boarding, police said.
Figures obtained following freedom of information requests sent to the 16 forces which cover Britain’s 20 busiest airports show at least 245 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk at an airport in Britain during the time period.
For the police forces that gave information, a further 204 arrests were made relating to alleged drunkenness on planes.
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Passengers convicted of being drunk on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment.
The sale of alcohol once a passenger has passed through security at international airports in England and Wales is not regulated by licensing laws, meaning rules intended to stop sales to drunk customers and prevent irresponsible promotions do not apply to them.
A Home Office consultation on whether legislation should be amended closed in February this year, but no outcome has been announced.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, described the arrest figures as “ridiculous” and demanded the introduction of new laws.
He said: “There is no credible reason we’ve heard - other than commercial gain - why airport bars and duty free are not licensed in the same way as any pub or restaurant on the high street.”
At Bristol Airport, one passenger was arrested on suspicion of being drunk on an aircraft and sexually assaulting female crew while another was found urinating in a walkway en route to a plane.