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We need an antidote to unruly passenger behaviour. Now.

Flydubai flight thrown into chaos by ‘unruly’ passenger (May 2018); 
2 unruly, intoxicated passengers force plane to make emergency stop at Pearson (May 2018);
Unruly passenger removed from plane (May 2018); 
Cuba-bound Condor diverted to Halifax after 3 ‘unruly passengers’ cause disturbance (June 2018)

The headlines above are just a glance at the most recent incidents that took place in the past weeks. They show that unruly, drunk passengers know no boundaries and no limits –  their behavior can disrupt any flight, operated by any airline all over the world at any time. Incidents occur now on every 1424th flight worldwide, according to IATA. And will continue to increase their frequency because there is no efficient way to – first of all – prevent potentially unruly passengers to board an airplane and then, possibly, penalize offenders.

This sober realisation however has done little to inspire governments across the EU – and worldwide – to ratify the ICAO Montreal Protocol (MP 14). This protocol is somewhat the only tool that gives hope that unruly passenger incidents could be reduced at a global scale. 

Unruly passengers are released and allowed to continue their journey without sanctions

The existing legal framework dealing with unruly passengers, contained in the Tokyo Convention on offences committed on aircraft (1963), proved ineffective so far as it grants jurisdiction over offences solely to the state of the registration of the aircraft. This leads to a situation where – upon landing – the Commander delivers an unruly passenger to authorities that simply have no jurisdiction. As a result, unruly passengers are mostly released and allowed to continue their journey without sanctions and free to do the same on their next flight.

The MP 14, which amends the Tokyo Convention, spells out a clearer framework for dealing with such incidents, clarifies what counts as an ‘offence’ and allows airlines to seek compensation for costs incurred as a result of unruly passenger incidents. But ICAO Member States – including most EU Member States – are yet to ratify the Protocol.

Out of the 192 ICAO Member States, only 30 have signed and 12 have ratified the Montreal Protocol on #unrulyPax

The European pilot community fully supports the provisions of this Protocol and wants to see it come into force as quickly as possible. For this to happen, 22 States need to ratify it. Out of the 192 ICAO Member States only 30 have signed it and 12 have ratified it, meaning we are still at least 10 more ratifications short. At present, Malta and Portugal are the only European States that ratified the Protocol, while Spain and France have only signed it. And while governments seem slow to understand the significance of this Protocol, unruly passengers will continue to rule.