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Government launches airside alcohol consultation

Today the UK Government has launched a call for evidence on whether the Licensing Act, which regulates the sale of alcohol in England and Wales, should apply to airports. Currently premises after security in airports are exempt from current legislation.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said:

'Air travel often marks the start of an exciting holiday abroad and airports are places to eat, drink and shop as we wait to board our flights. 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. This is an excellent opportunity for all interested parties to engage directly with us, inform our understanding of the problem and identify suitable solutions.'

In its Fit To Fly report published in August 2018, the Institute of Alcohol Studies found that 6 in 10 people have encountered drunk passengers and that the majority (51%) of Brits believe there is a serious problem with excessive alcohol consumption in air travel (illustrated below).

The report also found widespread support for revoking the airports loophole – suggested in a House of Lords Select Committee paper in 2017 – among the British public (86%) and a number of prominent stakeholders, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council, local councils, Airlines UK (the trade body for registered airlines), and low-cost airline carrier Ryanair.

A survey by Unite of over 4,000 cabin crew working for British-based airlines in August 2017 found that 87% of respondents reported witnessing drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports or on flights from UK airports.

The call for evidence closes on 1 February 2019.

Jennifer Keen, Head of Policy at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said:

‘Drunk and disruptive passengers, though a small minority, can have a major impact on their fellow passengers and cabin crew. They have led to instances of flights being diverted and of cabin crew being kicked, punched and headbutted.

‘We are pleased that the Government has launched a call for evidence on this issue as it’s important to protect ordinary passengers from people who get drunk and aggressive in the air.’