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Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Published at 06:35 GMT


New rules to tackle air rage menace

Flight crew are trained to deal with disruptive passengers

Police at Manchester Airport are setting out new guidelines to deal with the problem of so-called "air rage".

The guidelines will detail the respective responsibilities of the police and airlines in handling disruptive passengers.

Manchester Airport saw 50 such incidents last year, including several assaults which led to prison sentences of up to two years.

The Disruptive Passenger Protocol, developed by police, airport authorities and airlines to combat the increasing number of air rage incidents, outlines the action to be taken against any passengers causing trouble.

Airlines are to release full details of any incident to police and compile a full list of witnesses so officers can investigate all allegations. Offenders will be warned they face jail if found guilty.

Can endanger lives

Superintendent Tim Burgess, Commander of Greater Manchester Police's sub division, said: "Whilst air travel remains extremely safe, any disruptive behaviour during a flight can place the lives of others at risk.

"This protocol sends out a clear message that anyone who puts the lives of others in danger will be severely dealt with.

"The courts are taking the whole issue of disruptive passengers very severely indeed and are likely to impose a custodial sentence on anyone found guilty regardless of age, previous good character or even if it is a first offence."

The move follows a number of high profile air rage cases including one last week when four cabin crew and a soldier had to restrain a drunken passenger who tried to punch out the inner glass of a door on board a British Airways Boeing 747 at 35,000ft.

Passengers could be sued

Last month a drunken passenger had to be restrained and handcuffed with the help of another passenger who was a member of the SAS.

The former Stone Roses star Ian Brown was recently jailed for threatening to chop the hands off an air hostess while on board a flight from Paris to Manchester.

Last September British Airways introduced a yellow card system to restrain disruptive passengers and said it was looking into the possibility of suing passengers when their damage forces an aircraft to be diverted.

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