The level of incidents involving disruptive airline passengers remained almost the same as 2017 last year despite a rise in the overall number of people flying.

A slight drop in incidents to 413 in 2018 from 417 the previous year and 415 in 2016 was revealed by the UK aviation regulator.

This came as the number of passengers departing from UK airports grew by 8.9% between 2016 and 2018.

The figures refer to any passenger incident threatening the safety of an aircraft, whether or not they were alcohol related.

The new Civil Aviation authority data shows that only 31% of the incidents were explicitly linked to alcohol.

Glasgow airport reported a 52% year-on-year decline in outbound alcohol-related offenders.

Manchester airport saw a 23% reduction in incidents of disruptive behaviour according to Greater Manchester Police figures.

Alcohol-related disruptive incidents at Birmingham airport fell by 20% for outbound passengers when comparing the second half of 2018 against the second half of 2017.

Approximately one incident of alcohol-related disruptive behaviour per million departing passengers was reported at Heathrow last year, according to police figures.

The results follow a government-backed ‘One Too Many’ public awareness campaign which ran from July for ten weeks covering ten airports. The initiativereturned for a further ten weeks in December including four more airports.

The government is currently reviewing responses to its consultation on airside alcohol licensing amid concerns about alcohol-based air rage.

CAA director Richard Stephenson said: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been working with the industry to lower the number of disruptive passengers incidents in airports and on flights.

“We welcome all efforts to reduce these incidents and encourage the industry to continue to work together to tackle this issue.

“Every passenger expects their flight to be enjoyable and trouble-free. Disruptive behaviour is totally unacceptable and can lead to prosecution, a fine, or a prison sentence of up to five years.”

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee added: “The figures released by the CAA reflect the work undertaken by airports, retailers and airlines throughout 2018 to enhance the public’s awareness of the consequences of disruptive or disorderly behaviour.

“Staff and passengers deserve to fly without disruption and we look forward to working together as an industry to build on the success so far in preventing disruptive passenger incidents from occurring.”

Francois Bourienne, chair of the UK Travel Retail Forum, said: “We are all pleased to see that the number of disruptive passengers is coming down as overall passenger numbers continue to climb at record rates.

“These numbers reflect the proactive and sustained work of retailers, airports and willing airlines to raise passenger awareness of the need to fly responsibly, and we will be continuing this work in earnest in 2019 and beyond.

“These numbers speak for themselves and should be recognised by the government alongside responses to the consultation on airside alcohol licensing.”

Iata Europe regional vice president Rafael Schvartzman said: “Airlines have always made use of existing laws and best practices to deter unruly passenger incidents.

“We hope that the industry’s information campaign is helping to increase public understanding of the serious consequences of disruptive behaviour in an airport or onboard a flight. We will continue to work with our partners to stop this unacceptable behaviour.”