Ryanair has called on UK airports to limit pre-flight alcohol sales, especially during flight delays, warning of a rise in disruptive behaviour among passengers.
The Irish airline noted that the Civil Aviation Authority reported a 600 per cent increase in disruptive passenger incidents in the UK between 2012 and 2016, with most involving alcohol. Meanwhile, a BBC Panorama investigation found arrests of passengers suspected of being drunk at UK airports and on flights were up 50 per cent in a year.
Panorama contacted all 20 police forces with a major UK airport on their patch, and 18 responded. A total of 387 people were arrested between February 2016 and February 2017, a rise on 255 the previous year.
Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said:
It’s completely unfair that airports can profit from the unlimited sale of alcohol to passengers and leave the airlines to deal with the safety consequences.
This is a particular problem during flight delays when airports apply no limit to the sale of alcohol in airside bars and restaurants.
This is an issue which the airports must now address and we are calling for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at airports, particularly with early morning flights and when flights are delayed.
Jacobs said that as Ryanair flights were short-haul "very little alcohol is usually sold on board", and it was "incumbent on the airports" to introduce preventative measures to curb excessive drinking.
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators' Association, told Panorama that the sale of alcohol per se wasn't the problem.
"It's the misuse of it and drinking to excess and then behaving badly," she said. “I think what we are encouraging is that all of our lounge staff - if they are airport lounges, sometimes they’re airline lounges, they’re a mix of providers - but the point is they should be saying, ‘Drink responsibly’.”