The trade body for UK airlines has pledged to continue efforts to clamp down on air rage after it was disclosed that the number of incidents had quadrupled over three years.
The British Air Transport Association was responding to new statistics compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority and published by the BBC showing 386 dangerous incidents in 2015 compared with just 82 in 2013.
Examples of incidents include disruptive passengers fighting each other and one passenger who had to be restrained during a flight after “progressively disruptive behaviour” before attempting to open an aircraft door.
It took four policemen to remove one passenger, who was described as “uncontrollable and verbally abusive”, in another incident.
Jet 2.com has banned on in-flight alcohol sales before 8am after being forced to divert one its flights earlier this year when a passenger became abusive.
Managing director Phil Ward admitted problems often stemmed from passengers “pre-loading” in airport bars or buying duty-free before the flight.
He said: “You can see it every day where people are drinking pints at six in the morning.
“I’m not trying to spoil people’s holidays at all, but it’s not normal to drink a pint at six in the morning and that then manifests itself on board the plane where the alcohol takes a greater effect.”
The airline has banned 22 troublemakers for life already this year, and Ward told the BBC he would like to see the creation of a centralised database so that anyone who has been punished by a single airline could be barred across the industry.
Bata chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “UK airlines take a zero tolerance approach to disruptive behaviour, which is why BATA led the way in drawing up and publishing the UK Aviation Industry Code of Practice.
“We welcome the recognition from government that excessive drinking at airports and on-board aircraft is an issue that needs to be addressed, and we look forward to discussing with ministers how to best tackle this problem.”
He added: “Airlines will, in the meantime, continue to take internal actions and work with partner organisations to reduce the number of incidents, which in the context of total UK passenger numbers are extremely rare but nevertheless can cause unnecessary disruption, annoyance and delay.
“Airlines are already taking a number of steps to deal with this problem – from refusing the sale of alcohol to certain customers or stopping the service of alcohol altogether, banning disruptive passengers from booking again, or actively seeking to recover costs from the passenger in case of diversions or any damage to the plane – and these will continue as we endeavour to get a grip on these increases in incidents.”
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