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Airports pressured to restrict booze sales

British airports have been told to impose tougher restrictions on alcohol sales in the departure lounge following a surge in “air rage” incidents.

The number of violent outbursts on board British plans has tripled in the last three years with 114 incidents recorded last year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Astonishingly, the number of incidents recorded on board British planes was almost as high as the 121 recorded by the Federal Aviation Administration across the whole of the US during the same period.

As reported by The Times, incidents on board British planes have included bomb threats, assaults on crew, smoking in toilets and trying to gain entry to the cockpit, with alcohol believed to be a driving factor.

Of the cases reported, 34 were related to assaults on either cabin crew or passengers, while the CAA revealed that one passenger had even tried to “vacate the aircraft” in an incident in August last year.

Many of the incidents were said to be linked to “long-haul stag parties”, according to The Times, with groups drinking heavily in the airport’s departure lounge before travelling to their destinations.

While incidents have increased in recent years, they have not reached the record highs of the 1990s when air rage incidents were at their peak.

Nathan Stower, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, told The Times: “Airlines set tough rules around the consumption of alcohol and can refuse to carry someone who is drunk to prevent disruptive behaviour and ensure the safety and security of their passengers and crew. Pubs, bars and restaurants in airports in the UK and overseas must play their part.”

In China, a tougher approach is taken with disruptive passengers blacklisted and banned from flying in the future.

A CAA spokesman said: “There is no excuse for rude or aggressive conduct by passengers towards cabin crew or fellow passengers. It is actually a specific criminal offence to be drunk on board an aircraft, and also to refuse to comply with instructions from the captain.

“We support UK airlines’ efforts to deal with disruptive passengers to ensure the safety of all those on board, and welcome criminal prosecutions where appropriate.”

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