GENEVA – Unruly air travellers beware – new regulations to be enforced from January 1, 2020 strengthens the powers of states to prosecute those who disrupt flights.
Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour. But the deterrent to unruly behaviour is weak,
It closes a legal gap under the Tokyo Convention 1963, whereby jurisdiction over offences committed on board international flights rests with the state where the aircraft is registered. This causes issues when unruly passengers are delivered.
Unruly and disruptive passenger incidents on board flights include physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instructions.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said these incidents may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew.
IATA said the entry into force of Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14) on January 1, 2020. enhances the capacity of states to curb the escalation in the severity and frequency of unruly behaviour on board aircraft.
“Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour. But the deterrent to unruly behaviour is weak,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“About 60% of offences go unpunished because of jurisdictional issues. MP14 strengthens the deterrent to unruly behaviour by enabling prosecution in the state where the aircraft lands.
“The treaty is in force. But the job is not done,” said Mr de Juniac. “We encourage more states to ratify MP14 so that unruly passengers can be prosecuted according to uniform global guidelines.”