Ryanair is calling on UK airports to enforce a two-drink limit after it was revealed the number of passengers arrested for drunken behaviour increased by 50 per cent in the last year.
The airline has already banned customers from drinking duty-free alcohol on flights and stopped people flying from Glasgow Prestwick and Manchester to Alicante and Ibiza from bringing it on board the aircraft at all.
The company is now urging airports to ban the sale of alcohol before 10am and to limit the number of drinks per boarding pass to a maximum of two. Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said: “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.”
The call comes after figures obtained by BBC Panorama from 18 out of 20 police forces with a major UK airport on their patch revealed a surge in arrests for drunken behaviour on flights or at UK airports.
There was a total of 387 in the year to February 2017, up from 255 in the period from February 2015 to 2016.
Ally Murphy, a former Virgin Airlines cabin crew manager, told Panorama: “People just see us as barmaids in the sky.
“I was pulled into an upper-class bed by a passenger who was feeling particularly lucky I guess. They would touch your breasts, or they’d touch your bum or your legs, or I mean I’ve had hands going up my skirt before.
“It’s rage inducing, and you shouldn’t have to deal with that. I guess I never reported it to the police because sadly, and this is completely wrong and only really occurring to me now, you kind of just accept it as part of the job. And it shouldn’t be.”
Another cabin crew member, who was unnamed in the programme, said airline workers had found “countless” litre bottles of vodka and they felt that Alicante, Ibiza and Palma were among the worst routes.
Alexandra Wilms, of the Balearic ministry of tourism, called for “high fines” to try and deal with the problem as “these kinds of people don’t understand any other thing than really getting punished by paying a lot of money” while Airport Operators’ Association chief executive Karen Dee rejected suggestions airports are irresponsibly selling alcohol.
Ms Dee said: “The sale of alcohol per se is not a problem. It’s the misuse of it and drinking to excess and then behaving badly.”
Panorama also points out that the UK aviation industry brought in a voluntary code a year ago. It recommends that airports and airlines should work together to limit disruptive behaviour and sell alcohol responsibly. Most of the big airlines and airports have signed up to this.
A House of Lords committee report earlier this year called for tougher rules on the sale of alcohol at airports.
The Home Office said it was considering the report’s recommendations, which include revoking the airports’ exemption from the Licensing Act, “and will respond in due course”.