British Airways today ( Tuesday 3 November) called upon the UK Government to spearhead a worldwide effort to eliminate the disruptive and violent behaviour by air travellers known as ‘air rage’.
It also welcomed Transport Minister Dr John Reid’s request for an urgent meeting of UK airlines to discuss the matter.
British Airways issued a three-point rallying cry for the government to undertake:
* lead an international effort to create a unified and effective reporting system among regulators;
* seek agreement from overseas’ governments to extend the jurisdiction of arrest to its local police forces for incidents on British registered aircraft;
* find a financial backer to fund urgently needed scientific research into the causes of ‘air rage’.
The plea was made by Iain Jack, Head of Security at British Airways, at a seminar on passenger behaviour and aircraft safety organised by the UK Flight Safety Committee.
The audience consisted of 150 senior officials from British Police Forces, the Civil Aviation Authority, airport authorities, airlines and their trade unions.
Mr Jack said there were inconsistencies throughout the aviation industry in how disruptive passenger behaviour was monitored, and that in 1997 British Airways totalled 266 such incidents, yet the Civil Aviation Authority had only 108 cases listed for the same period. The CAA’s figures are for all British registered scheduled and charter airlines.
He said: “What is obviously lacking is an effective reporting system, which is why airlines have been unable to obtain effective support from our regulators.”
Mr Jack urged action from the Government to extend powers of jurisdiction for ‘air rage’ incidents to be investigated by police forces abroad, and said: “I believe that the UK Government should sponsor an international effort to protect our passengers, crew and aircraft in these circumstances by getting other governments also to extend their jurisdiction.”
In 1996, the UK government introduced the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act which brought within the UK’s jurisdiction actions committed on foreign registered aircraft.
Mr Jack also explained there is a strong need for an independent study into the causes of personal stress which lead to disruptive behaviour by passengers. Such a psychological probe will, he said, help all airlines worldwide to minimise and even eradicate ‘air rage’ incidents against airline stewardesses and stewards, plus pilots and other passengers.