Sale of alcohol at UK airports to be reviewed after incidents

A new scheme will see some airports selling alcohol in sealed bags to reduce drink problems on flights. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
A new scheme will see some airports selling alcohol in sealed bags to reduce drink problems on flights. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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New Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad has announced he will examine the way alcohol is sold at airports amid a spate of incidents on planes involving drunk passengers.

He also pledged to ensure the way in which unruly travellers are stopped from going through airport departure gates is “fit for purpose”.

Recent police statistics show hundreds of passengers were arrested on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport in the past two years.

Figures obtained following freedom of information requests showed at least 442 people were held between March 2014 and March 2016.

Lord Ahmad said: “If you’re a young family travelling on a plane you want to go from point A to B – you don’t want to be disrupted.

“I don’t think we want to kill merriment altogether, but I think it’s important that passengers who board planes are also responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers, and that certainly should be the factor which we bear in mind.

“In terms of specific regulations of timings of outlets (which sell alcohol) and how they operate, clearly I want to have a look at that.”

Lord Ahmad was appointed by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister earlier this month.

His predecessor, Robert Goodwill, revealed last year that several airlines had written to the government to warn about the number of alcohol-related incidents.

In February, six men who were on a stag party were arrested by German police after a mid-air brawl caused a Ryanair flight from Luton to Bratislava, Slovakia, to divert to Berlin.

Another recent case involved a female passenger punching an easyJet pilot in the face after being ordered to leave an aircraft before it took off from Manchester in 
May.

Both Glasgow and Manchester airports have trialled a scheme with shops selling alcohol in sealed bags in an attempt to reduce problems on flights.

Lord Ahmad highlighted the value of screening travellers before they board planes.

He said: “I think that it’s important for the safety and security of all passengers that we ensure that regime is actually fit for purpose.”

He added: “I want to certainly look at what more can be done in terms of making aviation a very attractive sector for all, so whether you’re a businessman making travelling arrangements or you’re a family planning a holiday, you can do so, knowing that once you board the plane it’s going to be an environment in which you’re going to be safe and secure.”