Trade responds to airline's alcohol limit call

By Fred A'Court

- Last updated on GMT

Blanket ban: airline Ryanair has called for a ban on alcohol sales in airport bars before 10am
Blanket ban: airline Ryanair has called for a ban on alcohol sales in airport bars before 10am

Related tags: Vast majority, Alcoholism

The trade has underlined the need for the responsible sale of alcohol and action against drunken airline passengers in response to tough suggested limits on sales at airport bars and restaurants by Ryanair. 

The airline has called for:

  • Banning the sale of all alcohol in bars and restaurants before 10am.
  • Introducing the mandatory use of boarding cards when purchasing alcoholic drinks in bars and restaurants (in the same way a boarding card is needed for airport purchases) and limiting the number of drinks per boarding pass to a maximum of two.
  • Controlling the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants to passengers during flight delays by limiting the number of drinks per boarding pass to a maximum of two.

It issued the ‘two is the limit’ demand to coincide with findings of a 50% rise of drunkeness at airports and arrests of air passengers on flights in the past year made by the BBC Panorama​ programme.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported a 600% increase in disruptive passenger incidents in the UK between 2012 and 2016, with most involving alcohol, Ryanair said.

The aviation industry launched a code of practice last year.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said while the problem of disruptive passengers is quite rare, the effects can be potentially serious so is wholly unacceptable.

ALMR spokesperson Tony Sophoclides said: “The vast majority of passengers do behave responsibly, so a balance must be sought that allows those responsible travellers to choose to enjoy a drink should they wish, while ensuring that steps are taken to deter irresponsible behaviour, which is sometimes alcohol-related."

Preventing disruptive behaviour

He added: “The ALMR supports the code of practice, which the aviation industry launched last year, to enhance existing efforts to prevent disruptive passenger behaviour.

“But the first focus must be to ensure that measures already in place are properly and fully implemented before exploring how best to support those existing measures to minimise disruptive behaviour.

“And passengers must be made aware of the consequences of such behaviour, which include being denied boarding, incurring fines, flight bans and prison sentences for the most serious offences.”

A British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) spokesperson agreed that the vast majority of holidaymakers and business travellers are able to enjoy a drink or two before flying without incident.

“The industry works in partnership with the police and airport authorities, and penalties for the small minority of passengers who cause disruption are rightly severe,” the BBPA said.

“We have a good track record of working with local authorities and a range of partnership schemes.

“As an industry, we are only too aware of the need for alcohol to be sold and consumed responsibly, whether in airports or outside.”

Action should be taken

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs maintains that it is incumbent on airports to introduce preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights.

Responding to the BBC Panorama​ report, the director general of the Alcohol Information Partnership, Dave Roberts, said travelling can be stressful enough without the boorish and unpleasant behaviour of drunken passengers. And that it is unacceptable that the actions of a small minority can disrupt the vast majority of sensible passengers that want nothing more than a quiet, relaxed and uneventful start to their holiday.

“Insulting, disrespectful and abusive behaviour towards airline staff and fellow passengers can never be tolerated and should be dealt with using all laws and regulations available,” he said.

“Airline and airport staff must be allowed to get on with their important jobs without the added pressure of managing drunken behaviour from a few unruly passengers.

“UK Government data shows that, in general, adults drink in a moderate and convivial manner, young adults drink less year on year, and binge drinking and alcohol-related crime and violence are on the decline. 

“Where problems exist, such as on some flights, action should be taken to address the behaviour of thoughtless and disrespectful holiday makers that continue to drink too much and cause disruption to flights and distress to staff and other passengers.”

Related topics: Licensing law

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