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IATA Calls on Govts to Review Aviation Laws on Unruly Passengers Due to Increasing Numbers of Incidents

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments around the world to review their laws on passenger behavior to deal with all kinds of unruly and disruptive passengers, as the number of accidents of this kind has doubled since 2020 and continues to increase.

According to IATA’s Assistant Director for Government and Industry Affairs, Tim Culhane, the broader use of civil and administrative sanctions, as the ICAO Guideline makes clear, should prevent such behavior, reports.

“Criminal prosecution remains an option for more serious incidents with hefty fines or prison sentences. These crimes must be strictly enforced, and the consequences of such behavior made public,” Collihan said.

According to data published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 1,000 accidents were reported by the authorities in one week, and overall, a 55 percent increase in cases of unruly passenger accidents was observed.

A similar situation has been observed internationally, including in the United States where its aviation authority (FAA) revealed that more than 4,600 accident reports were registered between January and early October 2021. About 3,312 cases, or 72 percent of these, refused to wear face masks. About 849 of these reports have been examined, while 142 such cases have been reported annually over the past decade, compared to before the pandemic.

However, riotous passengers have remained in the picture for decades now as in 1963, the Tokyo Convention was established to regulate such accidents. In accordance with this agreement, the states in which the aircraft is registered have the right to sue disabled passengers. But, as the authorities consider that they do not have jurisdiction when aircraft are registered in other states or when operators hold a foreign air operator (AOE) certificate.

Because of these inconveniences, the passengers were able to continue their journey without disapproving of their disruptive behavior.

In addition, the 2014 Montreal Protocol (MP14) amended the Tokyo Convention and authorized states to handle and deal with unruly passengers regardless of where the aircraft was registered.

So far, 32 countries have ratified the MP14 since it came into force on January 1, 2020. Russia was the last country to ratify the protocol, including Nigeria, Finland, France, Qatar, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In the future, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, two of the largest aviation markets, are expected to ratify the agreement.

A survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association in May showed that the majority of respondents (88 percent) supported the requirement for a face mask while traveling. However, according to this data, 70 percent of passengers thought the rules and paperwork requirements weren’t easy to understand, and 67 percent thought arranging exams was difficult.

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