Tougher penalties for unruly air passengers

Tougher penalties for unruly air passengers

ICAO meeting leads to changes in rules governing disruptive behaviour

ICAO meeting leads to changes in rules governing disruptive behaviour

Disruptive air passengers could be dealt with more severely in future, after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to make changes to the regulations governing unruly behaviour.

Officials meeting in Montreal last week agreed to amend the Tokyo Convention 1963, which provides the legal framework for dealing with passengers threatening the safety of a flight.

Previously, these passengers could only be prosecuted by the country in which the aircraft was registered. But this was becoming increasing ineffective, as modern aircraft leasing arrangements often meant the country of registration was neither the home nation of the airline, nor the aircraft’s destination.

Are you sitting comfortably?
Are you sitting comfortably?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which had pushed for the rule change, applauded the decision and urged the world’s governments to ratify the revised regulations.

“This agreement is good news for everybody who flies – passengers and crew alike,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general & CEO. “The changes, along with the measures already being taken by airlines, will provide an effective deterrent for unacceptable behaviour on board aircraft.

“But governments must now follow-up on the success of the diplomatic conference and ratify the new protocol. With some 300 incidents of unruly behaviour being reported each week, we urge governments to move quickly,” Tyler added.

Approximately 100 governments attended the diplomatic conference in Montreal, and the agreed changes will come into force when 22 nations ratify the new Tokyo Convention.

As well as closing the loophole governing the country in which offenders can be prosecuted, the revised rules also redefine what is classed as ‘unruly behaviour’. This can now include the threat of physical assault, as well as the assault itself, and refusal to follow safety instructions. There are also new provisions to deal with the costs arising from unruly behaviour.

“Unruly passengers are a very small minority. But unacceptable behaviour on board an aircraft can have serious consequences for the safety of all on board. The goal is to effectively deter such behaviour and ensure safe flights for all by making the consequences of such behaviour clear and enforceable,” Tyler concluded.

Mark Elliott
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Mark Elliott
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