Hundreds of passengers have been arrested for drunken behaviour at airports or on aircraft over the last two years.

A freedom of information request by the Press Association found that there were 273 arrests across 2017 and 2018.

But the figures do not include responses from the Metropolitan Police, which covers Heathrow and Surrey Police, which covers Gatwick – the two busiest airports in the UK.

Reasons for the arrests ranged from smoking in aircraft toilets, to fighting on board aircraft and threatening staff with knives. Ninety of the drunken incidents were on board aircraft while the rest were at airports.

A spokesman for Airlines UK told Sky News: “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.”

The Civil Aviation Authority, airlines, and Abta have all backed moves to stop all-day licensing at airports.

The Home Office is currently reviewing airport drinking rules, which are not bound by the same licensing laws as pubs and clubs on the high street.

Anyone convicted of being drunk on an aircraft can face a fine of up to £5,000, or up to two years’ imprisonment. The CAA warned in June that 417 flights were endangered by abusive and violent travellers in 2017 – more than double the total five years ago, with many incidents fuelled by alcohol.