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CAA figures reveal slight fall in number of disruptive passengers

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has revealed that the number of disruptive passenger incidents reported has remained relatively stable despite the surge in overall passenger numbers.

There was a total of 415 incidents reported in 2016, 417 in 2017 and a slight drop to 413 in 2018.

Alongside this, between 2016 and 2018, the numbers of passengers departing from Britain’s airports grew by 8.9 per cent.

The figures refer to any passenger incident threatening the safety of an aircraft, whether or not alcohol related.

They count things like a passenger caught smoking in a plane toilet, whether drunk or not, and would capture aggressive behaviour toward cabin crew as a result of drugs or general frustration.


The CAA’s data shows that only 31 per cent of the incidents in 2017 were explicitly linked to alcohol.

There are positive signs at both a national and local level with Glasgow Airport, for instance, reporting a 52 per cent decrease in outbound alcohol-related offenders.

At Heathrow Airport, there was approximately one incident of alcohol-related disruptive behaviour per million departing passengers last year, according to police figures.

At Manchester Airport, 2018 saw a 23 per cent reduction in incidents of disruptive behaviour according to Greater Manchester Police figures, and at Birmingham Airport alcohol-related disruptive incidents were down by a fifth for outbound passengers when comparing the second half of 2018 against the second half of 2017.

The aviation industry has always taken the rare occurrence of disruptive passengers extremely seriously with penalties including being denied boarding, fines of up to £80,000 or jail for the most serious offences.

Passengers were reminded of this in 2018 as the aviation industry’s major trade associations representing travel retailers, airlines and airports, joined forces in a Government-backed public awareness campaign entitled ‘One Too Many’.

The campaign first launched in July for a ten-week run with ten pilot airports on board including Manchester, Gatwick and Glasgow.

Richard Stephenson, director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been working with the industry to lower the number of disruptive passenger incidents in airports and on flights.

“We welcome all efforts to reduce these incidents and encourage the industry to continue to work together to tackle this issue.

“Every passenger expects their flight to be enjoyable and trouble-free. Disruptive behaviour is totally unacceptable and can lead to prosecution, a fine, or a prison sentence of up to five years.

“The Civil Aviation Authority calls on everyone to respect their fellow travellers and behave responsibly at all times.”