ICAO, IATA release legal guidance on handling unruly passengers

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ICAO and IATA have released new legal guidance on dealing with unruly passengers on board aircraft.

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The new ICAO Manual on the Legal Aspects of Unruly and Disruptive Passengers emerged from the adoption of the 2014 Montreal Protocol, which aimed to tighten regulations for dealing with travelers who potentially pose a threat to other passengers, cabin crews or an aircraft.

The number of such incidents has risen sharply in recent years, with alcohol being a major factor behind them. Some airlines have urged airports to limit the amount of alcohol that can be served to passengers awaiting departure.

Traditionally, incidents caused by unruly passengers on international flights have been difficult for police at the arrival airport to deal with, as the offenses often occur in international airspace, outside their national jurisdiction.

The chief aim of the new guidance is to assist national governments in legislating for more appropriate and harmonized legal measures to prevent and deal with such incidents.

“Unruly and disruptive passenger conduct can pose distinct threats to the safety and security of aircraft, flight crew and passengers,” ICAO secretary general Fang Liu said. “It can also generate costly disruptions to airlines and passengers alike in situations when aircraft must be diverted to manage these incidents.”

“Enhancing safety is the shared goal for governments and airlines, and deterring unruly and disruptive behavior on flights is key to this,” IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac added. “IATA welcomes today’s new ICAO guidance, which is intended to help governments address unruly passengers under their own national law. It covers many practical measures for consideration by policymakers, including ‘on the spot’ fines to boost enforcement action.”

The manual’s publication is also expected to encourage more countries to ratify the 2014 Montreal Protocol. With the June 5 deposit of the instrument of ratification by Uruguay, the protocol requires two more countries to formalize their ratification before its official entry into force.



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