The sale and consumption of alcohol at airports should have restrictions applied, according to a new report from a parliamentary select committee.
The House of Lords report highlighted the fact that airports are expressly left out of the Licensing Act 2003, meaning many of the normal alcohol restrictions do not apply. “No one travelling on an international flight can fail to notice that, once they have gone through customs, control of the sale of alcohol seems to be relaxed, and the permitted hours even more so,” read the report.
In addition to there being little restriction when it comes to when alcohol can be sold at airports, the evidence suggested that there is also a problem with who it is being sold to. A Sussex police spokesperson told the select committee: “Gatwick Airport sits within the Sussex Police boundary and there have been a number of alcohol test purchases conducted airside at the Airport. Whilst improvements have now been made, during the first round of testing, all but one of the premises selling alcohol sold alcohol to our under 18 year old test purchasers.
“No sanctions were possible due to none of the Licensing Act 2003 offences being relevant for airside premises, and because of this engagement with the owners of the licensed premises, including very large well known providers, was very difficult.”
Budget airline Jet2 also contributed evidence in support of the findings, reporting that over half of all passenger disruptions on flights were as a result of alcohol consumption.
“Our figures show that the number of incidents where the passenger fails to respect the rules of conduct at an airport or on board an aircraft have risen significantly,” said Jet2’s submission. “These incidents range from passengers being verbally abusive to crew or fellow passengers to incidents which endanger safety, such attempting to open cabin doors. Jet2.com have dealt with 536 such disruptive incidents this summer alone, over half are reported to have been fuelled by alcohol.”
The airline cited a case study from last year in which a flight from Leeds Bradford to Larnaca had to be diverted to Manchester for police to offload and arrest a 21-year old man after he became abusive to a family on board the aircraft. Witness reports state that the passenger was observed drinking his own alcohol both in the terminal and on board the flight. In the wake of such incidents, Jet2 recommended that airports should not be exempt from the Licensing Act 2003.
In response to the evidence presented, Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, chairwoman of the Lords select committee, said: “This can lead to dangerous situations and must be changed.”
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