UKHospitality vows to protect airside customers’ freedom to drink

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pre-flight tipple: a Government consultation has been launched over drinking at airports
Pre-flight tipple: a Government consultation has been launched over drinking at airports
In response to a Government consultation on airside licensing, UKHospitality says airside alcohol restrictions would ‘demonise pubgoers’.

Launched on 1 November 2018, a Government consultation on the impact of airside licensing on alcohol-related disruptive behaviour at airports follows the release of figures by the Civil Aviation Authority claiming there were 417 reports of serious disruption of flights in 2017 compared to 415 in 2016 and just 195 in 2015.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, Victoria Atkins MP, said: “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.”

Two-drink limit

In response to the consultation, low-cost airline Ryanair has called for the imposition measures to control the amount drunk per customer and when airport pubs can sell alcohol. 

A Ryanair spokesperson told The Morning Advertiser​: “Ryanair welcomes the UK Government’s ‘call for evidence’ in relation to airport licensing laws. 

“We continue to call for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at airports, such as a two-drink limit per passenger and no alcohol sales before 10am. 

“It’s incumbent on the airports to introduce these preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights.”

Demonising pubgoers

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “New legislation would be unnecessary and unfair and demonise pubgoers who deserve the right to enjoy a drink when going on holiday and the vast majority do so responsibly. 

“The long flight delays of yesteryear are thankfully more rare, so people aren’t in airport pubs for as long. The problem lies more with drinking duty free purchases on board, which is already illegal but poorly enforced.

“Passengers in business and first-class lounges drink as much as they like at any time of day – why crack down on the venues where economy class passengers pay to enjoy a drink or two? 

“UKHospitality works closely with airports, airlines and pubs to promote the responsible sale of alcohol, and are signatories to the code of practice to that end, but we will continue to defend passengers’ right to enjoy a drink on their holiday." 

Behaviour ‘generally excellent’

JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Millions more people use airports than they did 20 years ago.

“Behaviour is generally excellent with almost zero incidents.

“More analysis may need to be done on the minority of incidents rather than more draconian licensing restrictions that would affect everyone. 

“If you ban alcohol at airports, in some way, people will still bring their own or drink outside.

“Wetherspoon’s airport pubs have the highest sales of food and coffee within the company’s 900 pubs.”

Need for collaboration

Responding to the airport licensing laws consultation, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said: “Millions of us enjoy a drink at airports as a relaxing way to start a hard-earned break.

"Any new measures to tackle the minority of disruptive passengers must therefore be proportionate and not penalise the responsible majority.

“This consultation issued by the Home Office  is comprehensive and raises a number of issues that need to be addressed.

"Although imposing the full Licensing Act on airports may be unnecessary and overly restrictive, there is much more airports and airlines can do to help tackle disruptive passengers.

“Best practice training for outlets selling alcohol at airports is an option. I know several airports are already doing this and are seeing a positive impact as a result.

“As demonstrated elsewhere in the sector, partnerships are the best way forward.

"Schemes such as Best Bar None, which promotes responsible management and operation of alcohol licensed premises, could easily be adapted to an airport setting.

"The BBPA is already working with a number of airports and will continue to do all we can to ensure that alcohol is sold in a responsible way.”

Related topics: Legislation

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