The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced a new set of legislations that close the loopholes in the law that previously allowed bad behaviour on aircrafts to go unpunished. By Shrimayee Thakur
Unruly passengers have been quite the menace for airlines to handle on board. As said by the Head of the International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, every passenger on board has the right to a flight without any disturbances or abusive behaviour from other passengers. However, previously, the deterrent for this kind of behaviour was weak.
This was because of the Tokyo Convention of 1963, which said that jurisdiction for any offences committed while in the air rests with the country where the airline is registered. This meant that if the airline landed anywhere except the home country, the perpetrator could walk free. While some countries, like the UK and US have their own laws to tackle this problem, other countries did not.
The Montreal Protocol of 2014 aims to rectify this. The protocol has been ratified by 22 countries, the basic requirement for any law by the IATA to be adopted, which means it will officially come into effect from January 1, 2020. The protocol makes it easier for authorities to punish passengers who start fights, are verbally abusive, or smoke on the plane. The passenger can be prosecuted by officials in the arrival country under local laws. The protocol will also make it easier for airlines to recover diversion costs from passengers, in case a disruption forces the plane to land to offload a disruptive passenger. These costs can go up to INR 1.42 crores ($200,000).
Nigeria, on November 26, 2019, became the 22nd country to ratify the protocol, allowing it to become the law. While 22 countries in five years seems like a slow process, in international legal terms, it is actually quick, and a sign of how much this law was needed.