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Hundreds of air passengers arrested for drunkenness

31 December 2018 09:52

The ages of those detained ranged from 17 to 61

The ages of those detained ranged from 17 to 61

Nearly 300 travellers have been arrested over the past two years for being drunk at an airport or on a plane.

According to police statistics obtained by the Press Association, at least 273 passengers were arrested in 2017 and 2018.

Incidents on board included a drunk traveller accused of fighting with another, while another man was arrested for shouting and swearing at an aeroplane pilot.

In the airport, cases included a man brandishing a knife at customer services staff at Aberdeen Airport after he wasn't allowed to travel, and a man punching a bar manager at Glasgow Airport departures lounge after he was refused service.

Licensing laws

The figures come as the Government considers scrapping round-the-clock drinking in airport bars by extending high street licensing laws, which would mean no alcohol before 10am.

Under current rules, drink sales beyond security gates at international airports in England and Wales are not regulated by these laws.

The Home Office launched the review on November 1, with a three-month call for evidence.

The sale and supply of alcohol at international airports in Northern Ireland and Scotland are outside the scope of the call for evidence as they are separately regulated under the Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

A spokesman for Airlines UK, the trade association for UK airlines, said: "The problem of disruptive behaviour has got progressively worse over a number of years, despite the best efforts of industry to tackle it.

"There is no evidence to suggest these incidents won't persist without the active involvement of Government."

Two years' imprisonment

Figures obtained following Freedom of Information requests show 48 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk on an aircraft in 2017, and 42 in 2018 to date.

Passengers convicted of being drunk on an aircraft can face a fine or up to two years' imprisonment.

For the police forces that gave information, a further 104 arrests were made relating to alleged drunkenness at airports in 2017, with 68 this year to date.

South Yorkshire Police made no distinction as to whether its 11 recorded incidents happened on aircraft or at an airport.

The true numbers will almost certainly be higher as forces including the Metropolitan Police, which covers the UK's busiest airport Heathrow, and Sussex Police which handles incidents at Gatwick did not provide figures.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said in a statement: "The figures demonstrate that there continues to be an issue with passengers consuming alcohol to excess while travelling to the UK from abroad."

The AOA said it will work with airports outside the UK in the coming year "so they can learn from our experience on what works to reduce incidents of disruptive passengers".

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