Efforts to combat unruly aircraft passengers have been given a boost through a new global treaty.

The so-called Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14) has been ratified by 22 countries and is due to come into force on January 1.

It aims to enhance the ability to curb the escalation in the severity and frequency of unruly behaviour on board aircraft.

Iata welcomed the treaty as a means of strengthening the powers of governments to prosecute unruly passengers.

It closes a loophole where more than half of offences currently go unpunished due to issues of jurisdiction.

Unruly and disruptive passenger incidents on board flights include physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instructions.

The incidents may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew, according to Iata.

UK airline staff called for government action to target unruly passengers with more prosecutions, tougher penalties and ways to prevent potential troublemakers from boarding ahead of the summer peak flying period.

MP14 closes a legal gap under the Tokyo Convention 1963, whereby jurisdiction over offenses committed on board international flights rests with the state where the aircraft is registered. This causes issues when problem passengers are delivered to the authorities when landing in foreign territories.

Iata director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour.

“But the deterrent to unruly behaviour is weak. About 60% of offenses go unpunished because of jurisdictional issues.

“MP14 strengthens the deterrent to unruly behaviour by enabling prosecution in the state where the aircraft lands.

“The treaty is in force. But the job is not done. We encourage more states to ratify MP14 so that unruly passengers can be prosecuted according to uniform global guidelines.”

Airlines are also working on a range of measures to help prevent incidents and manage them more effectively.

These include enhanced crew training and raising awareness with passengers of the potential consequences of unruly behaviour on board, Iata said.

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