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Budget airline urges government to strengthen alcohol licensing laws in airports


Budget airline EasyJet has renewed calls for the government to introduce stricter alcohol licensing regulations in airports. Speaking to Bristol Live, a spokesperson for the airline said alcohol consumed and/or bought in airports is typically “the major causal factor of disruption in the air”.

As a result, easyJet “strongly” believes that regulatory changes need to be made in order to address this problem.

The spokesperson argued that licensing laws should be introduced at airports to control the sale of alcohol, as this would bring airports in line with bars and restaurants on the high street.

Furthermore, the representative said the consumption of duty-free alcohol on-board should be made illegal.

The EasyJet official was speaking following a number of alcohol-related incidents on its flights from Bristol Airport.

In one instance, an EasyJet flight from Bristol to Prague had to be cancelled on June 1st after a group of intoxicated passengers caused disruption.

Bristol Airport’s policing team subsequently described their behaviour as “disappointing”, writing on Twitter: “It’s an aircraft, not a nightclub”.

The EasyJet spokesperson acknowledged that the “vast majority” of passengers who consume alcohol in the airport or on board a plane do so responsibly.

However, the airline said the regulatory changes it is proposing would “protect their interests, while reducing the number of disruptive incidents”.

This, the spokesperson stated, would in turn make flying “safer and more enjoyable for all”.

The official added that this is not a new position for the airline, as it has been lobbying for stricter rules on alcohol sales at airports for some time.

A Bristol Airport spokeswoman insisted that it wants all passengers to have an “enjoyable start to their journey”, but said anti-social behaviour by a minority “can spoil the experience for everyone”.

She went on to state that while there is “nothing wrong with enjoying a drink before heading off on holiday”, passengers must be aware that drinking to excess could result in them not being allowed to travel.

Earlier this year, the government confirmed that it is looking at tightening up the rules regarding alcohol sales in airports.

Alcohol purchases at airports are currently only required to be placed in sealed bags if a passenger is boarding multiple flights and therefore going through further security checks.

However, ministers are looking to crack down on intoxicated passengers who cause disruption during flights, and are considering extending the rule to apply to people boarding a single flight.

Other options are also currently being looked at, such as a ban on passengers taking their own alcohol on board planes and tougher penalties for being drunk during a flight.

A consultation on the proposals is due to be launched in the autumn, with the government’s final plans then being published in early 2019.

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.

For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Robert Botkai in our Commercial Real Estate and Licensing department.




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