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Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 21:10 GMT


Anti air-rage measures unveiled

John Reid: "Unacceptable behaviour seems to be growing"

Transport minister John Reid has announced plans to sharpen legislation in an attempt combat 'air rage'.

Speaking at a summit of airline operators on Wednesday, he said the government intended to make it a specific offence for passengers to interfere with air crew going about their duties.

[ image: John Reid: Concerted effort needed]
John Reid: Concerted effort needed
Mr Reid outlined a series of anti-air rage proposals at the meeting - convened as a result of the attack of stewardess Fiona Weir during a flight from London to Malaga.

Passenger Steven Handy, accused of striking Ms Weir with a broken vodka bottle, is now facing assault charges in Spain.

Mr Reid said: "Fortunately violent incidents are extremely rare.

"But the number of times when passengers have to be restrained on board aircraft because of their unacceptable behaviour seems to be growing.

"We have told the airlines that concerted action is essential and have urged them to work with all those involved in the industry including the unions and the airport operators."

The minister said the government was promoting international action to ensure all countries have laws enabling offenders to be dealt with on arrival.

Police at major airports are drawing up plans for tackling disruptive passengers and crime in the air.

Chief constables are to hold a summit on the issue next month to ensure "co-ordinated action", he said.

And the government intends to amend the Air Navigation Order to ban passengers interfering with crew at work.

[ image: Fiona Weir was attacked en route to Malaga]
Fiona Weir was attacked en route to Malaga
Breaking the order is a criminal offence, a spokesman for the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions confirmed.

Airlines have been told to boost training for staff in dealing with disruptive passengers to help secure more prosecutions.

Wednesday's meeting included representatives from unions and major carriers including Monarch, Air 2000, British Airways, Airtours, Britannia and Virgin.

The attack on 31-year-old Ms Weir led to Mr Handy being banned from all British airlines.

The stewardess needed 18 stitches after being hit over the head, arms and neck.

Unemployed Mr Handy, 37, is on bail from a Spanish court.

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