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IATA encourages adoption of rules on unruly passengers

The new rules are set to come into force in January 2020

Published on 3 December 2019



The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is encouraging more states to ratify the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14), with the protocol due to come into force on 1st January 2020. MP14 enhances the capacity of states to curb the escalation in the severity and frequency of unruly behaviour on board aircraft.

This follows Nigeria ratifying MP14 on the 26th of November 2019, the 22nd state to do so.

The Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts on Board Aircraft, is a global treaty that strengthens the powers of states to prosecute unruly passengers. The Tokyo Convention 1963 has a flaw in the form of a legal gap - offences committed on board international flights rest with the state where the aircraft is registered, which causes issues when unruly passengers arrive in foreign territories.

Unruly and disruptive passenger incidents on board flights include physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instructions. These incidents may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew.

IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, said: “Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour, but the deterrent is weak. About 60% of offences go unpunished because of jurisdictional issues. MP14 strengthens the deterrent to unruly behaviour by enabling prosecution in the state where the aircraft lands. The treaty is in force, but the job is not done. We encourage more states to ratify MP14 so that unruly passengers can be prosecuted according to uniform global guidelines.”

States should also review the effectiveness of the enforcement mechanisms available to them in line with ICAO Guidance on Legal Aspects of Unruly and Disruptive Passengers (ICAO Document 10117) which gives information on how civil and administrative fines and penalties can be used to supplement criminal prosecutions.

In addition to strengthening jurisdiction and enforcement, airlines are working on a range of measures to help prevent incidents and manage them more effectively when they do happen. These include enhanced crew training and raising awareness with passengers of the potential consequences of unruly behaviour on board.

The current list of States which have signed, ratified, accepted, approved or acceded to the Montreal Protocol 2014 is available on the website of the ICAO Treaty Collection.

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