About 50 venues across Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports – which collectively cater for approximately 60m passengers per year – are to be evaluated under Best Bar None's pilot with a view to gaining accreditation under the scheme, which promotes co-operation between the pub and bar trade, the police and local authorities.
It’s anticipated that ongoing participation in the scheme would then become a condition of trading at the three airports, with any staff working in Manchester Airports Group airport lounges expected to undertake and pass the Level 1 BIIAB Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing.
Call for evidence deadline
The announcement comes days before the deadline for a Government call for evidence regarding the impact of excessive consumption of alcohol airside in airports on 1 February.
The evidence gathered will help assess whether airside venues should fall under the remit of the Licensing Act 2003 to reduce disruptive alcohol-related behaviour.
In response to the Government’s call for evidence, UKHospitality vowed to protect airside customers’ freedom to drink, expressing concerns that airside restrictions would ‘demonise’ pubgoers.
Potential to spread the scheme’s wings
Best Bar None chairman Lord Smith of Hindhead said the announcement was a positive move and that he looked forward to developing an airport-specific version of the Best Bar None scheme.
He said: “Incidences of drunk and disorderly passengers in airports or on board aircraft are fortunately relatively few and far between, but when they do happen, they present a real threat to both staff and fellow passengers.
“Ensuring that all premises within airports are recognised for delivering the appropriate training, followed by rigorous checks and assessment through the Best Bar None scheme, will help to reinforce existing work being done to minimise any disruptive behaviour caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
“If the trial is successful, we will look to roll it out to more airports across the country, hopefully negating the need to introduce additional regulation through the implementation of high street licensing laws in airports.”
Tackling disorderly passengers
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins MP, added: “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.”
In addition, aviation minister Liz Sugg commented: “Everyone should be able to enjoy their journeys through airports, which is why drunk and disruptive behaviour will not be tolerated and offenders face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
“We continue to work with airports and airlines to tackle disorderly passengers and I am pleased to see Manchester Airports Group and Best Bar None working together to help make sure air travel is a positive experience for everyone.”
Leading the sector
Manchester Airports Group’s group corporate affairs director Graeme Elliott explained that the company was proud to be the first airport group in England to sign up to Best Bar None.
“As an airport operator, we believe our passengers have a right to buy alcohol in duty free or enjoy a drink in a bar or restaurant at the start of their holiday before their flight departs. But we are also clear that passengers drinking alcohol must always be responsible and should never impact on the enjoyment or safety of any other passenger.
“This scheme will help provide further assurance that Manchester Airports Group and our partners are doing our bit by demonstrating the highest standards of responsible alcohol sales, and we take every opportunity to remind passengers that if they are drunk they will not be able to fly.
“We also work with airlines, retailers and the police to help pass messages to colleagues around the airport, including airline staff at the gates, letting them know of potentially disruptive passengers.
“This partnership with Best Bar None is the latest example of Manchester Airports Group leading the industry in finding ways to further reduce the small number of incidents of alcohol-related disruptive behaviour and to create a safe and welcoming environment for all of the 60m passengers that pass through our airports each year.”