Ban violent passengers from future flights, MP says

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Allowing courts to ban people who are violent on planes from future flights could help solve the “increasing” problem, the Commons has heard.

Conservative MP Gareth Johnson has proposed legislation which he said would see violent flyers receive bans similar to those used in other circumstances, such as for drink-drivers or football hooligans.

Introducing a 10-minute rule Bill, he told the Commons that while currently airlines can ban people from their own aircraft, they cannot inform other airlines about the passenger or seek a wider ban.

Mr Johnson (Dartford) said he had heard suggestions that banning alcohol could address the issue of violence on planes, but he told the House – to assenting murmurs from fellow MPs – that such a step was not the answer, and the vast majority of people can enjoy a drink without causing such problems.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “Violent incidents on aeroplanes are rare, but the problem is increasing.

“The confined nature of an aeroplane makes an out-of-control individual far more concerning than on any other mode of transport.”

He added: “We currently ban people from driving if a criminal offence is committed in a car. We ban people from football matches if they take part in hooliganism. We even ban people from being directors of companies.

“But we happily allow people who assault airline staff to get back on a plane without any power from the courts to stop this.”

He said the Bill would make provision for court orders to prohibit “disruptive passengers from flying”.

And while he did not make specific recommendations for how such orders might work, he said people should know that if they are violent on planes “then they will not be flying again for a good period of time”, in addition to any other punishment they may receive.

He went on: “Airlines can ban people from using their own company again, but they cannot share information about that person to other airlines.

“So letting the courts stop the worst offenders will not only protect cabin crew and passengers, but act as a deterrent to anyone tempted to be violent on a plane.

“Right now a person can be violent on a plane, be banned by that airline, and then straight away get on another airline’s plane and be violent again. That cannot be right.

“Some say the solution is to ban alcohol.

“I don’t agree – 99.9% of people who enjoy a glass of wine or a beer at an airport or on a plane do so without causing any problems. It is part of their holiday.

“It is the 0.1% of people we should target, and not the 99.9%. Alcohol can be a factor, but not always, so banning it is not the answer.”

He said the airline companies also want violent incidents to be stopped, saying they can endanger staff and, if the plane needs to be diverted, can cost an “enormous” amount of money and cause “considerable” inconvenience.

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