Minister to clamp down on drunk travellers
A spate of incidents on plates involving drunk passengers has sparked a pledge from the new aviation minister to re-examine the way alcohol is sold at airports.
Statistics show that hundreds of unruly passengers have been arrested in the last two years, with some individuals accused of attempting to open aircraft doors or smash windows while being drunk.
Now the country’s new aviation minister, Lord Ahmad, has said he is to ensure the way drunk travellers are stopped from going through airport departure gates is “fit for purpose”.
“If you’re a young family travelling on a plane you want to go from point A to B, you don’t want to be disrupted,” he said. “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 police figures show at least 442 people were held between March 2014 and March 2016. Leeds-based Jet2.com also revealed last year it had stopped more than 450 people from flying in 2015 because of their unacceptable behaviour.
This was a “substantial increase” from previous years, the airline said, and included 50 people who were given lifetime bans.
The budget airline based at Leeds Bradford Airport launched a campaign, Onboard Together, in a bid to stamp out disruptive behaviour.
‘Disruptive behaviour on flights and at airports, often driven by excessive consumption of alcohol, is unacceptable and something we have been working hard to reduce for the past year,” said managing director Phil Ward.
“We have been working with other airlines and airports to agree a code of practice on disruptive passengers which was launched recently.
“We will continue to work with the rest of the industry, and the Government, to tackle disruptive behaviour at airports and on board our flights.”
Among recent cases was that of a couple from Leeds fined after admitting to being drunk and abusive on board a plane during a flight back from Lanzarote.
The pair, in their 50s and 60s, became aggressive towards staff on board a Jet2 flight bound for Leeds Bradford Airport in the early hours of July 20 last year.
In September 2014, a man from Halifax was jailed for six months because of his drunken behaviour on a flight from Croatia.
Leeds Crown Court heard Ryan Hedges, 33, from Boothtown, boarded the flight from Split on July 5 carrying a two thirds full bottle of Jagermeister which was seized by the cabin crew when he became “loud, abusive and disruptive.”
Trade bodies representing UK airlines and airports issued a joint statement in response to Lord Ahmad’s comments.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, and Ed Anderson, chairman of the Airport Operators Association, said: “These incidents can be costly and cause delays.
“With air travel proving more popular than ever, now is the time to tackle this problem collectively.”