London: Nearly 390 air passengers were arrested at UK airports and on flights in a year for allegedly being drunk, a 50 per cent spike, according to a media report today.
BBC Panorama investigation suggests that a total of 387 people were arrested between February 2016 and February 2017 - up from 255 the previous year.
More than half of cabin crew who responded to a survey said they had witnessed disruptive drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports.
The arrest figures obtained came from 18 out of the 20 police forces with a major airport in their area, the report said.
Trade body Airlines UK said it should be made illegal for people to drink their own alcohol on board a plane. A total of 19,000 of the Unite union's cabin crew members were surveyed and 4,000 responded, with one in five saying they had suffered physical abuse.
A former cabin crew manager with Virgin, Ally Murphy, quit her job last October after 14 years and told Panorama: "People just see us as barmaids in the sky. In July 2016 the aviation industry introduced a voluntary code of conduct on disruptive passengers, which most of the big airlines and airports signed up to.
The code's advice included asking retailers to warn passengers not to consume duty-free purchases on the plane, while staff are also asked not to sell alcohol to passengers who appear drunk.
Airlines UK, which represents carriers such as Virgin, British Airways and EasyJet, wants the government to amend the law to make consumption of a passenger's own alcohol on board an aircraft a criminal offence, the report said.
Low-cost airline Jet2 has already banned alcohol sales on flights before 8 am and managing director Phil Ward agreed further action was needed.
"I think they [airports] could do more. I think the retailers could do more as well.
A House of Lords committee report earlier this year called for tougher rules on the sale of alcohol at airports.
Committee chair Baroness McIntosh of Pickering said: "We did not hear one shred of evidence to show the voluntary code was either working now or had any possible vestige of success in working any time soon."
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".
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