Airports

Could this be the end of airport boozing?

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Airport drinking: under review
Airport drinking: under review

Related tags: Executive brigid simmonds, Drinking culture

The sale of alcohol in airports is to be examined by the new aviation minister in a drive to prevent booze-related incidents on flights.

Pubs and bars airside are not subjected to the Licensing Act 2003, but they will be under scrutiny after Lord Ahmad said he would look at times alcohol is sold at airports and into the ways passengers are screened.

"If you are part of a young family travelling on a plane you want to go from point A to B, you don't want to be disrupted,” he said.

Responsibility to others

He added: "I don't think we want to kill merriment altogether, but I think it's important that passengers who board planes are also responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers, and that certainly should be the factor which we bear in mind.

"In terms of specific regulations of timings of outlets, and how they operate, clearly I want to have a look at that."

Some 442 people were held on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport in the UK between March 2014 and March 2016, a Freedom of Information request sent by the Press Association found.

High-profile incidents

And there have been a string of recent high-profile incidents, including six British men being arrested on a stag do, after a flight had to divert to Berlin on its way from Luton to Bratislava this year.

The British Beer & Pub Association’s chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “As an industry, we are keen for alcohol to be sold and drunk responsibly, including, of course, at airports, and despite venues airside not being covered by the Licensing Act, the industry still adheres to internal policies to ensure that alcohol is sold and consumed responsibly. 

“Staff training is an important element, and there are also considerable powers already available to deter and deal with those that misuse alcohol when waiting to board a flight.”

Severe penalties

Penalties for passengers who cause flight disruption can be severe, including bans, fines and prison sentences.

“The industry works in partnership with the police and airport authorities, and we would be happy to review these arrangements and extend them where necessary,” Simmonds continued.

“We have a good track record of working in partnership with relevant authorities, developing a range of schemes that promote the responsible sale and consumption of alcohol.” 

Related topics: Licensing law

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