Annual statistics of passenger behaviour on board aircraft

The total number of reported incidents of disruptive passenger behaviour on board UK-registered aircraft in 2005-06 fell by 9% compared to the year before. The number of significant incidents also fell although the number of serious incidents rose slightly.

These figures, for the year to the end of March 2006, were published today by the Department for Transport.

The fall in the total number of reported incidents, from 1486 to 1359, is attributed largely to improved and efficient handling of unruly incidents by airlines. In addition, air passengers have a greater awareness of the consequences of disruptive behaviour.

In the same period, compared with 2004-05

- the number of significant incidents fell from 1433 to 1303

- the number of serious incidents increased slightly, by 3 incidents, from 53 to 56.

Aviation Minister Gillian Merron MP said:

"I am pleased with the overall reduction in the number of disruptive incidents. Airlines have worked hard to ensure disruptive incidents are kept to a minimum, and more passengers are aware of the consequences of unruly behaviour.

"It is important to know that these incidents are very rare considering the number of flights each year, but they can cause discomfort, danger and delay for fellow passengers.

"Clearly, more work needs to be done and I will continue to support the airlines and police in their efforts to reduce bad behaviour on aircraft."

The main contributory factors to disruptive behaviour are alcohol and tobacco. Smoking in the aircraft toilet, which is classified as a significant offence by the Civil Aviation Authority, is by far the most common offence, closely followed by alcohol-related incidents. Police or security staff attended around one quarter of the incidents. Offenders can be prosecuted under the Air Navigation Order 2005 and the Aviation Offences Act 2003.