Airports facing crackdown on how they sell alcohol in bid to reduce incidents of drink-fuelled air rage
Figures show at least 442 people were arrested in the two years to March 2016 on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport
Britain’s airports face scrutiny about how they sell alcohol, and may be obliged to seal duty-free bags, as the Government seeks to reduce incidents of drink-fuelled air rage.
The new aviation minister, Lord Ahmad, has announced he will examine the way alcohol is sold at airports amid a spate of incidents on planes involving drunk passengers.
The law forbids anyone being drunk on an aircraft, but the rule is widely flouted. Figures obtained following freedom of information requests showed at least 442 people were arrested in the two years to March 2016 on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport.
While airlines are able to police the amount of alcohol served in flight, and refuse to serve passengers who are tipsy, they cannot control what happens before boarding. Some passengers, especially groups of young people, “pre-load” in airport bars.
In addition, some travellers open bottles of spirits bought in airport shops once on board the plane – even though this contravenes regulations.
Ryanair has banned passengers to Ibiza from taking any alcohol into the aircraft cabin, because so many were surreptitiously swigging their own supplies on flights to the Spanish island.
In February a brawl broke out aboard a Ryanair flight from Luton to the Slovakian capital, Bratislava. Six men on a stag outing were arrested when the plane diverted to Berlin.
One measure to be considered is for alcohol to be sold in sealed, “tamper evident” bags to reduce the opportunity to booze on board.
Lord Ahmad said: “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. 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.”
Aviation safety experts have long warned about the possible consequences of on-board violence fuelled by alcohol. There are also concerns about incapacitated passengers hampering emergency evacuations from aircraft at risk from fire. But airports earn handsomely from sales of drink at bars and in duty-free shops.