The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently ratified the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14), a move that the airline industry insiders have welcomed. The ratification will strengthen the global legal deterrent against unruly and disruptive passenger incidents onboard flights.
Jurisdiction to Manage Unruly Passengers
Effective from May 1, 2023, authorities in the UAE will have jurisdiction to manage unruly and disruptive passengers that land in the country, irrespective of where the aircraft is registered. This resolves an existing gap in international aviation law that often results in those accused of unruly behaviour from being prosecuted for their misbehaviour.
Easier Implementation of Stricter Penalties
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed this move, stating that it will make enforcement of stricter penalties on disruptive flyers easier.
Kamil Al-Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice President of Africa & Middle East, said, “Not only will this give the UAE authorities important new powers in dealing with unruly passengers that land in the country, but as a major aviation market and ICAO Council member, it will also encourage other States to ratify MP14.”
The UAE is the 44th state to ratify MP14, and it is estimated that more than a third of international traffic is covered by states that are parties to it.
Increasing Incidents of Aggressive Passengers
M.C., a flight stewardess with a UAE-based airline, expressed her enthusiasm about the move, saying, “This is the most amazing news. It is unfair that we take so much trouble to keep an airline safe, and passengers can behave in an unruly manner and get away with it.”
She further added, “I think tighter rules will definitely make people behave better.”
During her 18 years of flying, M.C. has seen and been at the receiving end of several incidents of aggressive passengers. She recalls an incident where a drunk passenger was being very loud and eventually struck her in the chest. Although the passenger later apologized, the incident caused distress and inconvenience to the crew and other passengers.
Disruption of Travel Plans
The increase in unruly behaviour on flights is causing disruptions in travel plans. Recently, a Dubai-based businessman, Mansoor, had his travel plans disrupted when he was travelling to Kerala. He recalled an incident where a passenger kept shouting in the plane, resulting in the rerouting of the plane to Mumbai, and the passenger being offloaded before the plane could continue flying. This caused a loss of time for everyone involved, and many were delayed for meetings or events because of the incident.
In recent times, there has been a steady increase in unruly behaviour on flights. Last week, an Air India flight from Delhi to London had to turn back after a female passenger began behaving aggressively and physically assaulting crew members.
In another incident, two inebriated passengers on an IndiGo flight from Dubai to Mumbai misbehaved with the crew after being told they couldn’t consume alcohol on the flight. Both of them were arrested and charged.
(Source & Inputs From Khaleej Times)
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