Call to ban airline booze service


(eTN) – Alcohol should be banned from flights if airlines cannot control drunken and aggressive passengers, anti-drug campaigners say.

Incidents involving drunk and drug-affected airline passengers were behind almost a third of the 110 cases of disruptive behaviour reported to federal aviation authorities over the past two years.

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Australian Drug Foundation spokesman Geoff Munro said yesterday too many passengers were being served excessive amounts of alcohol, and airlines that did not follow responsible serving regulations should face bans.

“If the airlines can’t ensure that their staff will serve alcohol in a responsible and legal manner, then the ultimate sanction should be to withdraw the airline’s licence to serve alcohol,” he said.

“After all, there can be no more dangerous place for people to be intoxicated.

“It is extraordinary that air crews would be serving people to that degree because you would think safety would be their number one priority.”

Melbourne resident Gavin Wilson recently complained to Qantas and liquor licensing authorities in three states, claiming his October 25 flight from Brisbane to Melbourne was ruined by three drunken passengers.

He alleges a cabin crew member served the men five small bottles of wine each until they were out of control; however, arguments over airspace jurisdiction mean his complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

“It turned quite violent when the intoxicated people began threatening other people and it was clearly visible, yet the crew felt it was a bit of a joke,” Mr Wilson said.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the airline had investigated the complaint but found no further action was required. She said a responsible service of alcohol certificate was a prerequisite for cabin crew employment and staff were trained to respond to a range of situations.

Federal Transport Department figures show 110 incidents of disruptive people on aircraft were reported between January 1, 2006, and September 30, 2007.

THIRTY-ONE incidents — or 28 per cent — involved intoxicated or drug-affected travellers.

THIRTEEN per cent related to unruly or abusive behaviour.

SEVEN cases — or 6 per cent — involved smoking on board.

SIX people were removed from aircraft due to their conduct.

It is believed the number of air rage incidents has fallen with the introduction of tough security measures after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.

Since early 2005, people making jokes about an aviation threat in Australia can be fined up to $5500.

In 2004, media celebrity Rex Hunt admitted he’d smuggled 10 metal forks aboard a Qantas flight as a prank to highlight security problems.

The same year, Victorian union official Maurice Addison was detained after he allegedly joked about a bomb on a plane at Melbourne airport.

Both men were questioned by police but not charged.

Many air rage incidents occur at airports before passengers board a plane.

The arrival of budget airlines with strict check-in times has led to many angry customers missing flights.