Limits on the sale of alcohol at airports could be introduced in an effort to tackle drunken behaviour on flights. Under the system being proposed by the Home Office, airport bars and pubs would only be able to sell alcohol to passengers just before they get on board a plane. Ministers hope this will prevent travellers getting too intoxicated while they are waiting in the terminal.
Speaking to the Independent, a Home Office source said a consultation on the potential impact of implementing the Licensing Act 2003 on airport bars will open later this year.
This follows a recommendation from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 that restrictions on alcohol sales at airports be put in place.
The government responded by confirming it would run various consultations through 2018 in order to garner opinion on how to limit the “impact of disruptive passengers”.
Ministers stated that the number of disruptive events remains small compared to the total passenger numbers.
However, the government said occurrences “seem to be on the rise”, stressing that with more than 260 million passengers travelling through UK airports each year, any disruptive behaviour is “entirely unacceptable” and “warrants further examination”.
The government added that ensuring the safety of all passengers is a priority, as it is “committed to maintaining a travelling environment that is both safe and enjoyable for all passengers”.
Drunken air passengers can already be hit with unlimited fines or custodial sentences of up to two years, while pilots can also remove people from the plane if they are drunk and believe the safety of the aircraft or other passengers is threatened.
Robert Botkai, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: “A personal observation is that alcohol appears now to be available not only in airport bars and pubs but also sandwich bars and other takeaway outlets.
“Alcohol is part of the offer at outlets not usually associated with the sale of alcohol. Having shared a check-in line with a group of inebriated youths at Stansted this summer, I will be interested to see the consultation and the various responses.”