A clampdown on air rage with on-the-spot fines for drunken passengers is reported as being considered by the government as part of its new aviation strategy.
A series of options to deter abusive and violent travellers on flights could include the introduction of a system of instant penalties up to hundreds of pounds, according to The Times today.
The new aviation strategy published by the Department for Transport suggested that all alcohol bought from duty free shops could be placed in sealed bags so that passengers cannot drink it on aircraft.
The strategy, issued last weekend, said that the government was considering “tougher measures such as introducing stronger penalties” to act as a bigger deterrent.
The Times said it had been told that ministers are also investigating the possibility of instant fixed penalties levied by police officers at airports without having to go through the courts.
These would be modelled on penalties introduced in other countries such as Germany, whose civil aviation authority, the Luftfahrt Bundesamt, can issue fines for disruption.
Other measures being considered by the government include bringing airside bars within the scope of the Licensing Act 2003 for the first time. This would give councils the power to license and inspect bars in airports, restricting the timing of alcohol sales and potentially shutting them down.
The suggestions come after the publication of figures from the Civil Aviation Authority showing that 417 flights were endangered by abusive and violent travellers last year — more than double the total five years ago.
Airlines say that the true number of incidents may be far higher as only the most serious cases are logged by the aviation regulator.
Currently, passengers found to be drunk on an aircraft can be taken to court for breaching air navigation orders, with the possibility of a £5,000 fine and two years in jail.
Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said: “Disruptive behaviour can ruin flights for both passengers and crew.
“Airports and airlines have made good progress in addressing this behaviour, but with incidents on the rise we want to examine the existing prevention work and penalties to see what more can be done.
“We will use our recently published document to work with the aviation industry to tackle this issue so that passengers can enjoy their flights without being affected by the unacceptable behaviour of a small minority.”
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