This is how many passengers have been arrested for being drunk at Newcastle Airport

Hundreds of passengers have been arrested on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at UK airports in the last two years, figures reveal.

Wednesday, 26th December 2018, 4:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 8:55 pm
Passengers drinking on planes and in airports is coming under increased Government scrutiny.

At least 273 people were held in 2017 and 2018, police statistics obtained by the Press Association show.

Cases include a drunk passenger accused of fighting with someone on board a plane, and a man allegedly shouting and swearing at a pilot.

Northumbria Police it has arrested 11 people for being drunk on a plane, and 19 for bring drunk at an airport, in the last two years.

Other alleged incidents at airports include a man brandishing a knife at customer services staff at Aberdeen after he was refused travel, and a man punching an airside bar manager at Glasgow when he would not serve him any more alcoholic drinks.

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Northumbria Police, which covers Newcastle Airport, revealed that over the last two years it has arrested 11 people for being drunk on a plane, and 19 for being drunk at an airport.

The figures come as the Government considers scrapping round-the-clock drinking in airport bars by extending high street licensing laws, which would mean no alcohol being served before 10am.

Under current rules, drink sales beyond security gates at international airports in England and Wales are not regulated by these laws.

The Home Office launched the review on November 1, with a three-month call for evidence.

A spokesman for Airlines UK, the trade association for UK airlines, said: "The problem of disruptive behaviour has got progressively worse over a number of years, despite the best efforts of industry to tackle it.

"There is no evidence to suggest these incidents won't persist without the active involvement of Government."

Figures obtained following freedom of information requests show 48 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk on an aircraft in 2017, and 42 in 2018 to date.

Passengers convicted of being drunk on an aircraft can face a fine or up to two years' imprisonment.

For the police forces that gave information, a further 104 arrests were made relating to alleged drunkenness at airports in 2017, with 68 this year to date.

The true numbers will almost certainly be higher, as forces including the Metropolitan Police, which covers Heathrow, the UK's busiest airport, and Sussex Police - which handles incidents at Gatwick - did not provide figures.

The ages of those detained around the UK ranged from 17 to 61.

A Government spokesperson said: "Most UK air passengers behave responsibly, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.

"There are already tough penalties for drunkenness on an aircraft - you can be imprisoned for up to two years or given an unlimited fine.

"Pilots also have the power to remove passengers from the plane if they are drunk and the safety of the aircraft or its passengers is threatened.

"We strongly support the use of these powers by the police, airlines and airports to tackle drunk and disorderly behaviour at our airports and on board the aircraft.

"The Government is already working with both airports and airlines to identify further ways to tackle the problem of drunk and disorderly passengers as part of our new UK Aviation Strategy."

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said in a statement: "The figures demonstrate that there continues to be an issue with passengers consuming alcohol to excess while travelling to the UK from abroad."