Airlines calls for action after hundreds of drunk passengers arrested

Airlines are calling for new laws to reduce the number of drunk passengers after it was revealed that at least 449 were arrested for drink-related offences at British airports in just two years.

Offences include sexually abusing airline staff, urinating in public and swearing at crew.

Figures obtained following freedom of information requests revealed that at least 245 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk at an airport in Britain between April 1 2017 and March 31 2019.

For the police forces that gave information, a further 204 arrests were made relating to alleged drunkenness on planes.

However, the arrests were likely to be higher as three forces, including Greater Manchester police, didn’t release their figures.

The most arrests on aircraft or at airports were made at Heathrow (103), followed by Gatwick (81), Glasgow (47) and Liverpool (40).

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said the figures were ‘ridiculous’ and demanded the introduction of new laws to reduce the number of passengers who drink too much before and during flights.

“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,” he said.

“Likewise, why are duty-free shops still able to sell miniature bottles of alcohol, including at the airport gate? We know miniatures are sold for one reason only – to encourage immediate consumption, including on the plane.”

Passengers convicted of being drunk on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment.

However, the sale of alcohol in airport departure lounges in England and Wales is not regulated by licensing laws, so rules intended to stop sales to drunk customers don’t apply.

A Home Office consultation on whether legislation should be amended closed in February, but no decision has been announced.


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