YORKSHIRE airline Jet2.com has banned the sale of alcohol before 8am on its flights, to help tackle disruptive and abusive behaviour.
The budget airline, based at Leeds Bradford Airport, says it is the first airline in Europe to make the move on its early-morning flights and has called on airports and shops to follow its lead.
The ban will start on Monday and follows a pledge from Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad last week to consider what more can be done to make air travel an “attractive sector for all” which is “safe and secure”.
Jet2.com has been running a high-profile campaign called Onboard Together aimed at reducing disruptive behaviour on its flights. This has seen more than 500 passengers refused travel with over 50 of these given lifetime bans since it was launched in 2015.
Managing director Phil Ward said: “We have decided to follow up very quickly on my comments made last week, by taking positive action to allow the millions of customers and families who fly with us to travel with confidence and have a great experience with Jet2.com.
“We believe that stopping sales of alcohol before 8am on our morning flights is an effective way to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and comfortable journey. We understand that we’re the first of the European airlines to take this bold step and call upon industry partners in airports to also trade responsibly.”
The airline said it has also encouraged other firms in the industry to support the call for fully sealed bags for alcohol purchased in airports to prohibit the illegal consumption of personal alcohol before and during flights.
Recent police statistics show hundreds of passengers were arrested on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport in the last two years.
Figures obtained following freedom of information requests show at least 442 people were held between March 2014 and March 2016.
Last week, Jet2.com passenger Joshua Strickland, 21, from Tadcaster, was handed a £12,000 bill and a lifetime ban after his “abusive and aggressive” behaviour led to a plane being diverted to Manchester.
Strickland will be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on August 25.
Lord Ahmad said previously: “I don’t think we want to kill merriment altogether, but I think it’s important that passengers who board planes are also responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers, and that certainly should be the factor which we bear in mind.
“In terms of specific regulations of timings of outlets (which sell alcohol) and how they operate, clearly I want to have a look at that.”
A code of practice on disruptive passengers was published last week following collaboration between airlines, airports, the police and retailers.
It includes airport shops advising passengers not to drink alcohol they have purchased before or during their flight, and training staff in bars and restaurants to limit or stop the sale of alcohol if they are concerned about disruptive behaviour.