Sunday, 19 August 2018

easyJet flight to Gibraltar diverts to Porto due to drunk and rowdy passenger

A drunk and rowdy passenger, in his early twenties, on an easyJet flight from Manchester to Gibraltar became so disruptive that the crew diverted the aircraft to Porto in Portugal on Sunday morning 

Upon arrival at Porto, the police met the aircraft and the rowdy drunk man was taken off the aircraft, along with two friends travelling with him. The aircraft then took off again heading for Gibraltar after taking on some fuel, landing some 90 minutes behind schedule. 

The late inbound arrival of the aircraft also meant that passengers on the Gibraltar to Manchester flight were also delayed by around two hours. 

An easyJet spokesperson said that "easyJet's crew are trained to assess and evaluate all incidents. Whilst such incidents are rare, we take them very seriously do not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour onboard and always push for prosecution." 

But is that enough?

Whilst easyJet may push for a prosecution, the sentences are usually so light and any fine limited to a couple of hundred pounds at the most, so there is little deterrent against such drunken behaviour, which is, according to recent figures on the increase. Our chief aviation correspondent Jason Shaw thinks airlines should go a step further, "If those people who cause a delay or diversion through being intoxicated were made to pay for the full costs associated with a diversion, they would certainly think twice about drinking again on a future flight. It would also send a message to the wider travelling public that being drunk on an aircraft can have very serious implications.  The costs can be vast, consider the extra fuel needed for the diversion, the ATC and landing fees at that unscheduled airport, the cost of an damage to the aircraft sustained during the diversion or done by the intoxicated person and then add to that the cost of any compensation due to other passengers who are delayed due to the behaviour of the drunken person or persons and we could be talking in the tens of thousands of pounds."  Jason believes it would only take a few high-profile cases for the message to get out for people to drink responsibly before and during a flight. 

Ryanair and Jet2 have called for airports to limit the number of alcoholic drinks they can serve people before a flight, yet both reserves the right to continue to sell alcohol on their aircraft,  which makes levelling a cap on someone else's business seem irrelevant as well as difficult to manage.  There needs to be, according to Jason, a more joined-up thinking approach and greater communication within the industry to curtail the number of drunken disruptive and dangerous events in the air from occurring. Such communications should also include governments and lawmakers to ensure there is more uniformity in sentences passed out to those that endanger aircraft and the lives of others, by their inability to control and limit their alcohol intake. Budget and low-cost carriers might want to think about paying cabin-crew a little more in normal wages, rather than heavily incentifying and pressuring them to sell more and more booze on flights. There are a number of other ideas and option that could be discussed in order to make drunk air rage incidents a thing of the past, it just needs all those concerned to get together and get on with it.