The government is asking the public whether introducing alcohol licensing laws at airports in England and Wales could help curb drunk and disruptive passengers.
A review of licensing laws at airports is to be launched, which could signal an end to early morning boozing in airport bars and restaurants.
It follows a recommendation from the House of Lords Select Committee for licensing in
the wake of a rise in reports of drunk and disorderly airline passengers.
Currently, sales of alcohol by pubs, bars, restaurants, lounges and shops located airside (beyond security gates) at international airports in England and Wales are not regulated by licensing laws.
As a result, laws intended to prevent the sale of alcohol to drunk individuals or stop irresponsible promotions do not apply.
Announcing the call for evidence, Victoria Atkins, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said it marked “an excellent opportunity” for interested parties to engage directly with the government to “inform our understanding of the problem and identify suitable solutions”.
“Most UK air passengers behave responsibly when flying, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.
“This government is committed to ensuring that the travelling environment for airline passengers remains safe and enjoyable.”
The three month call for evidence is open to all who wish to contribute.
Reacting to the news, Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association said its members where committed to “reducing further the already small numbers of disruptive incidents that result from passengers’ excessive alcohol consumption”.
“Airports work closely with airlines, airport retailers, bars and restaurants and the police to tackle excessive alcohol consumption at all stages of the passenger journey. This includes passengers’ travel to the airport, at the airport and consumption onboard aircraft,” she said.
Dee referenced the work of the AOA’s One Too Many campaign launched this summer which seeks to remind travellers of the “consequences of disruptive behaviour”.
“We know our industry-wide work is having an impact. More should be done to develop these initiatives further, including fully enforcing existing powers that airlines and the police have at their disposal, before considering additional regulation,” she added.
Phil Ward, managing director of Jet2.com said the issue of disruptive passenger behaviour caused by drinking too much alcohol was “an unacceptable issue which continues to affect airports, airlines, our crew and our customers”.
He said that despite the work done by the low-cost carrier’s crew it was “unfair and unrealistic” for them to be expected them to deal with incidents of alcohol-fuelled abusive and violent behaviour.
Ward added that industry data showed incidents of disruptive behaviour caused by excessive drinking showed “no sign of reducing, endorsing our position that this is a continuing issue”
“The figures show that the time to put rigorous measures in place is long overdue,” he said.
“There is no reason why alcohol sold in airports should not be done to the same rules and standards that apply on the high street, and the introduction of sealed bags for alcohol items purchased in Duty Free provides a simple practical solution to prevent the illicit consumption of duty free alcohol on board the aircraft.”
“Jet2.com welcomes today’s announcement, and as a family friendly airline flying millions of people on holiday every year, we look forward to working with government and our partners across the industry to ensure that our crew and customers can fly in a safe, trouble-free environment.”