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IATA bombshell: 43 air-rage incidents reported each day

April 14, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Unruly behaviour in the air, often referred to simply as “air rage”, has blown out to plague proportions, with IATA confirming that 300 incidents are being reported each week, an average of almost 43 a day.

In a plea for stronger laws to combat in-flight violence and craziness, IATA has called on governments to act swiftly and ratify important changes to the Tokyo Convention 1963, agreed last week at a diplomatic conference in Montreal.

The Tokyo Convention provides the legal framework for dealing with passengers whose unruly or disruptive behaviour leads to physical assault or poses a threat to the safety of a flight.

Recent examples have included members of a pre-wedding hen party punching each other in flight, people urinating in aisles and on other passengers, travellers assaulting flight crew, drunks trying to open aircraft doors, exposing themselves to other passengers, making threats or masturbating. Passengers have claimed to be carrying weapons – there was even a case in the US where a woman made sexual advances to a male passenger and then threatened to murder him when he turned her down.

Not before time, new rules are on the way, following the Montreal agreement, but they need to be ratified.

“This agreement is good news for everybody who flies – passengers and crew alike, Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and chief executive, said after the meeting.

“The changes, along with the measures already being taken by airlines, will provide an effective deterrent for unacceptable behaviour on board aircraft. But governments must now follow-up on the success of the diplomatic conference and ratify the new protocol. With some 300 incidents of unruly behaviour being reported each week, we urge governments to move quickly.”

Some 100 governments attended the diplomatic conference that agreed the changes, which will come into force when 22 states ratify the protocol to the Tokyo Convention. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has driven the process through from initial proposal to a new treaty in five years, a relatively short length of time for a new protocol to be agreed.

By extending the jurisdiction from the country of aircraft registration to the destination country, the protocol closes a loophole which allowed many serious offences to escape legal action. The agreed changes give greater clarity to the definition of unruly behaviour (such as including the threat of or actual physical assault, or refusal to follow safety-related instructions). There are also new provisions to deal with the recovery of significant costs arising from unruly behaviour.

“Unruly passengers are a very small minority. But unacceptable behaviour on board an aircraft can have serious consequences for the safety of all on board. The goal is to effectively deter such behaviour and ensure safe flights for all by making the consequences of such behavior clear and enforceable,” Tyler said.

Written by Peter Needham

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