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All-hours airport boozing could be banned in crackdown on drunken flyers

All-hours airport boozing could be banned in crackdown on drunken flyers

By Emma Bowden and Neil Lancefield, Press Association

Round-the-clock drinking in airport bars could be scrapped as part of a crackdown on drunken behaviour by travellers.

The Home Office launched a review on Thursday into whether to extend high street licensing laws into departure halls, which would mean no alcohol before 10am.

Under current rules, drink sales beyond security gates at international airports in England and Wales are not regulated by these laws.

Critics claim this has contributed to an increase in drunken behaviour by some travellers.

A survey by the Unite union of 4,000 cabin crew found that 87% of staff from British-based airlines witnessed drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports or on flights from UK airports in August 2017.

The Government is asking the public for views on whether limiting licensing hours could help tackle the problem in a three month call for evidence.

This comes after a House of Lords Select Committee recommended that airside outlets should comply with the same licensing rules as elsewhere.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said: “Most UK air passengers behave responsibly when flying, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.

“This Government is committed to ensuring that the travelling environment for airline passengers remains safe and enjoyable.”

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, claimed work by the aviation industry to tackle excessive alcohol consumption is already “having an impact”.

She said: “More should be done to develop these initiatives further, including fully enforcing existing powers that airlines and the police have at their disposal, before considering additional regulation.”

But Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the trade association for UK airlines, said licensing laws must be applied airside as the problem of disruptive behaviour has got “progressively worse over a number of years, despite the best efforts of industry to tackle it”.

He went on: “There is no evidence to suggest these incidents won’t persist without the active involvement of Government.”

Travellers already face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine for drunken behaviour on an aircraft.

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