By Solomon Asowata
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said reports of unruly passenger incidents onboard aircraft increased in 2015.
Mr Alexandre de Juniac, the Director-General of IATA, said some 10,854 unruly passenger incidents were reported to IATA by airlines worldwide last year.
In a statement on Wednesday, he said increase equates to one incident for every 1,205 flights, an increase from the 9,316 incidents reported in 2014 (or one incident for every 1,282 flights).
He said the majority of the incidents involved verbal abuse, failure to follow lawful crew instructions and other forms of anti-social behaviour.
“A significant proportion (11 per cent) of reports indicated physical aggression towards passengers or crew or damage to the aircraft.
“Alcohol or drug intoxication was identified as a factor in 23 per cent of cases though in the vast majority of instances these were consumed prior to boarding or from personal supply without knowledge of the crew,” he said.
He noted that unruly and disruptive behaviour was simply not acceptable and added that anti-social behaviour of a tiny minority of customers could have unpleasant consequences for the safety and comfort of all on board.
“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.
“But we cannot do it alone. That’s why we are encouraging more governments to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014.”
According to him, the Tokyo Convention was modernised with the Montreal Protocol 2014 to close gaps in the international legal framework dealing with unruly passengers.
He said that till date, six states had ratified the protocol, stressing that more were needed in order to have a consistent global approach to this issue.
“Also in 2014, the airline industry set out core principles for a balanced, multi-stakeholder strategy for tackling unruly behaviour based around enhancing the international deterrent and more effective prevention and management of incidents.
“In some countries there has been a focus on the role of alcohol as a trigger for disruptive behaviour. Airlines already have strong guidelines and crew training on the responsible provision of alcohol.’’
IATA, he said, was supporting initiatives such as the code of practice pioneered in the UK which included a focus on prevention of intoxication and excessive drinking prior to boarding.
“Staff in airport bars and duty-free shops must be trained to serve alcohol responsibly and there is a need to avoid offers that encourage so-called binge drinking,” he said. (NAN)