Call for evidence launches on airport licensing laws Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

Government is asking for views on drinking in airports

The government is asking the public for evidence and views on whether introducing alcohol licensing laws at airports in England and Wales could help tackle the problem of drunk and disruptive passengers.

Currently, sales of alcohol 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 drunk individuals or prevent irresponsible promotions do not apply to them.

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.”

Airport Operators Association: “other initiatives should be developed before changing the law”

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said that airports work closely with airlines, airport retailers, bars and restaurants and the police to tackle excessive alcohol consumption at all stages of the passenger journey. 

AOA chief executive, Karen Dee said:

“For example, we successfully launched the One Too Many campaign this summer, supported by the Government. This reached nearly two million people through social media and many more through advertising in airports, reminding them of the serious consequences of disruptive behaviour, from being denied boarding, fines or even prison sentences.

“We know our industry-wide work is having an impact. More should be done to develop these initiatives further, including fully enforcing existing powers that airlines and the police have at their disposal, before considering additional regulation.”

A spokesperson for Bedfordshire’s international airport, London Luton, said:

“The safety and security of our passengers is our number one priority, and we work closely with police, our retailers and airlines to ensure we have a responsible approach to the sale of alcohol.

“We take a zero tolerance approach to drunk and disorderly behaviour.”

Airport drinking laws could be changed Photo by Bence ▲ Boros on Unsplash

Rise in reports of drunk and disorderly airline passengers

A 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.

A Unite survey of over 4,000 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.

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.

Feedback from interested parties will help the government establish the scale of the problem and assess the advantages and disadvantages of applying the Licensing Act 2003 to airside premises.

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