Governments urged to tackle unruly air passengers

More than 10,000 air rage incidents were reported in 2015
More than 10,000 air rage incidents were reported in 2015

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on the world’s governments to take action to prevent the rising number of air rage incidents taking place on commercial flights.

The body, which represents the majority of the world’s airlines, revealed that a staggering 10,854 incidents involving unruly passengers were reported by airlines in 2015, marking a 17% increase company to 2014. This equates to one incident for every 1,205 flights.

The majority of incidents involved verbal abuse, failure to follow crew instructions and other forms of anti-social behaviour. But a significant proportion (11%) of reports involved physical aggression towards crew members or fellow passengers, or damage to the aircraft. Alcohol or drug use was a factor in almost a quarter (23%) of incidents.

The problem however, is that many offenders escape legal action because of conflicting rules about which country’s jurisdiction they fall under. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 2014 in an effort to close this legal loophole, but it has so far only been ratified by six countries. IATA is now calling on more countries to step up.

“The increase in reported incidents tells us that more effective deterrents are needed. Airlines and airports are guided by core principles developed in 2014 to help prevent and manage such incidents. Be we cannot do it alone. That’s why we are encouraging more governments to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general & CEO.

In some countries there has been a focus on the sale of alcohol, and IATA says it supports initiatives aimed at preventing passengers from drinking excessively prior to boarding. It added however, that a “cooperative voluntary approach is preferable to heavy-handed regulation”.

“There is no easy answer to stem the rise in reported unruly behaviour. We need a balanced solution in which all stakeholders can collaborate. The industry’s core principles can help to manage the small percentage of passengers who abuse alcohol. And it must be balanced with efforts by governments taking advantage of all their deterrence mechanisms, including those provided through the Montreal Protocol 14,” said de Juniac.

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