A body representing 18 airports across the UK has criticised the latest call for tighter alcohol licensing regulations to be put in place.
The Institute of Alcohol Studies has said the Licensing Act should be applied to airports, which means that time restrictions on when drinks are sold in terminals would be in place.
However, the UK Travel Retail Forum believes the organisation is “copy-pasting what Ryanair wanted to say”.
Francois Bourienne, chair of the body, told the Daily Telegraph that if people cannot drink before a certain time in the airport, they will instead drink inside the aircraft.
Furthermore, he argued that sales of premium whisky would be hit, as US tourists heading home on early morning flights would not be able to buy it as a gift or souvenir.
Mr Bourienne has instead suggested issuing more warnings to passengers about the consequences of being intoxicated on board a plane.
Furthermore, he said airlines should intervene and speak to high-risk groups such as hen and stag parties.
This follows a recommendation from the House of Lords Select Committee that the Licensing Act 2003 be extended to airport bars, thereby giving greater powers to licensing authorities.
The government is set to consult on the idea, while ministers have also backed the One Too Many campaign, an effort to crack down on excessive alcohol consumption in airports.
This has been designed to remind passengers they can be denied boarding if they get intoxicated at an airport and fined up to £80,000 if a plane has to be diverted because of disruptive behaviour.
The One Too Many campaign is being run across social media and digital screen signage, leaflets and POS displays at airports including Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Gatwick and Newcastle.
Robert Botkai, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: “I await this consultation with interest.
“As always with licensing, arguments are flawed. Applying the Licensing Act to airports will not necessarily mean time restrictions on when drinks are sold. The Licensing Act allows for 24 hour licences! My own experience is of seeing people parked at the bar in the terminal downing pints and shots in the morning and afternoon, being tempted by the huge amount of alcohol in Duty Free and then being allowed to board the plan.
“Warnings to passengers won’t work. I’ve seen how difficult it is for airline staff to “intervene” when their focus is on checking passengers in. Just throwing an idea out there but how about apply the drink drive limits to airline travel? If passengers know they run the risk of being breathalysed before boarding, perhaps behaviours will change? There would be no need then to apply the Licensing Act at all!”