By Staff Correspondent
The rising incidents of unruly passenger behaviour on flights have prompted Air India CEO Campbell Wilson to urge concerted industry efforts to contain the problem. In the last six weeks alone, the airline has experienced four incidents where passengers have either assaulted or threatened to physically assault crew members. The CEO has made a call to action to curb this menace and to ensure that passengers behave appropriately in public environments.
Wilson expressed his concern over the trend, which has led the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to take a serious view of the situation and call for industrywide action to stem it. He acknowledged that the behaviour of some passengers was unacceptable and that the industry needed to take a stand on what is acceptable.
The call for action comes in the wake of an incident on a New York-Delhi flight where a business class passenger had allegedly urinated on a co-passenger on November 26 last year. The matter is currently sub judice, and Wilson admitted that the airline had failed to handle the situation adequately at the time.
As a consequence of that incident, Air India has set up new processes to monitor and deal with the problem of unruly passenger behaviour. The airline has selected the UK-based Ideagen’s enterprise cloud software application, Coruson, to further enhance end-to-end safety management, including real-time intelligence, reporting, and the status of in-flight incidents.
The safety data software application, which will be online from May 1, will ensure automated processes relay critical information to key personnel and authorities without delay, leading to timely action. The airline is separately engaged in procuring iPads for pilots and crew members, and when introduced, Coruson will be available on these devices as well.
According to IATA data, member airlines reported 4,242 incidents of unruly passenger behaviour in 2022, significantly less than the 5,672 incidents reported in 2021. However, there has been a sharp spike in these occurrences since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when only 2,688 incidents were reported globally. This increase was initially driven mainly by non-compliance with face mask requirements.
IATA’s assistant director for external affairs, Tim Colehan, observed that while the health situation has improved and most mask requirements have gone, government awareness of the problem of unruly behaviour on flights has increased. IATA has been urging governments globally to implement public awareness campaigns to make passengers aware of the type of conduct prohibited onboard, as well as the introduction of strong legal deterrents.