Airport alcohol ban call after Scottish arrest figures released

A leading low fares airline has renewed calls for greater controls on the sale of alcohol to passengers travelling through airports, after new figures revealed more than 120 people have been arrested at Scotland's main hubs over the past 20 months.

Airlines have called for a ban on early morning alcohol sales at airports.
Airlines have called for a ban on early morning alcohol sales at airports.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, police have made 121 arrests at the nation’s four largest airports since the beginning of 2016.

Those arrested include passengers who were under the influence of alcohol and were being aggressive towards airport staff.

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The figures have prompted some airlines to reiterate the need for a ban on early morning alcohol sales in terminals.

Airports are currently exempt from the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, meaning that restrictions on round-the-clock alcohol sales in stores do not apply to them.

Jet2 has banned the sale of alcohol on its flights before 8am and is calling on airports to follow suit.

A spokesman for the airline said: “Our data shows that the majority of such incidents are fuelled by alcohol. There are a number of factors involved: increased retail opportunities, discount or multibuy offers on alcohol in duty-free shops, and bars and even coffee shops selling alcohol. Passengers are able to start their consumption of alcohol very early on in their journeys.”

Last month, Ryanair called on airports across the UK to the ban the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants before 10am.

It added that airports should introduce the mandatory use of boarding cards for all transactions involving alcohol, with passengers limited to a maximum of two purchases.

The newly disclosed figures, released to The Times newspaper, show there were 84 arrests at Scottish airports last year, 15 fewer than the number recorded in 2015,

At Glasgow Airport, where 45 people were arrested last year, officials have introduced an initiative called Campus Watch, which requires staff to report individuals who have the potential to become disruptive early on to pre-empt incidents.

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A spokesman for the airport said: “It’s important to stress that the overwhelming majority of passengers travelling through the airport do so responsibly and that instances of disruptive behaviour are extremely rare and cover a broad range of offences.

“It’s also important to understand that disruptive behaviour can often disproportionately affect a large number of passengers, particularly if an incident occurs on board an aircraft. For Glasgow Airport, one incident is one too many.”

The Airport Operators Association, which represents airports across the UK, said the industry was committed to tackling the problem, but pointed out incidences were infrequent.

A spokesman said: “As an industry, we take the issue of disruptive passengers very seriously. Thankfully incidents of disruptive behaviour are a very rare occurrence but where they do happen the impact can have serious consequences.

“We have worked with airport police, bars, restaurants and retailers as well as with airlines to develop the UK aviation industry code of practice on disruptive passengers. This sets out how we can work to further reduce incidents of disruptive behaviour, and minimise the impact where they do occur despite our best combined efforts to prevent them. The government supports the code and we believe this is the best way to tackle this issue.”

He added: “Disruptive behaviour, including due to excessive alcohol consumption, is not acceptable. Passengers should be aware that consequences of such behaviour could include losing a holiday because they are denied boarding through to fines, flight bans and prison sentences for the most serious offences.”