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Crackdown looms on all-day drinking at UK airports

November 6, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The days of drinking in the morning at British airports seem numbered, with the Home Office announcing a review of liquor licensing laws for airport terminal outlets and some sort of ban considered likely.

Wild scenes at British airports and in-flight disruptions usually involve alcohol. Outrages have included a drunk and aggressive man stripping naked and threatening to fight a pilot. Crazed or riotous behaviour by boisterous and intoxicated groups of men or women is all too common.

Britain’s Home Office review could lead to a ban on alcohol sales in the morning at bars and restaurants inside airport terminals. That’s in line with demands by airlines. Many holiday flights by British cut-price carriers depart in the early hours.

Currently, sales of alcohol by pubs, bars, restaurants, lounges and shops located beyond the security gates at international airports in England and Wales are not regulated by licensing laws. This means that rules intended to stop sales to drunken people or prevent irresponsible promotions do not apply to them.

The UK government is gathering public submissions on introducing alcohol licensing laws in airports.

Britain’s Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said:

  • Air travel often marks the start of an exciting holiday abroad and airports are places to eat, drink and shop as we wait to board our flights.
  • Most UK air passengers behave responsibly when flying, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.
  • This government is committed to ensuring that the travelling environment for airline passengers remains safe and enjoyable.
  • This is an excellent opportunity for all interested parties to engage directly with us, inform our understanding of the problem and identify suitable solutions.

The call for evidence comes after the House of Lords Select Committee recommended that following a rise in reports of drunk and disorderly airline passengers, airside outlets that sell and supply alcohol to air travellers should comply with the same licensing rules as elsewhere.

The three-month call for evidence is open to all who wish to contribute.

A survey by the union Unite of over 4000 cabin crew working for British-based airlines in August 2017 found that 87% of respondents reported witnessing drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports or on flights from UK airports.

An investigation by BBC One’s Panorama program revealed a rise of more than 70% in arrests related to drunken behaviour on British flights or in airports, from 225 in the year up to February 2016 to 387 in the following 12 months.

While the Licensing Act 2003 does not regulate the sale and supply of alcohol on planes, travellers already face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine for drunkenness on an aircraft. The government is also taking a wider look at how the issue of disruptive passenger behaviour could be managed through the development of the new UK Aviation Strategy.

Written by Peter Needham

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