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Government not extending provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 to airside premises Published Date: 16/12/2021

The Government said there is not sufficient new evidence which makes a compelling case for extending all of the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 to airside premises.

Kit Malthouse, The Minister of State for Crime and Policing, said in a statement:
"The 2017 report of the House of Lords Select Committee that carried out a post-legislative scrutiny of the Licensing Act 2003 recommended that the Government should revoke the exemption from the Licensing Act that applies to most international airports in England and Wales.

"Following the report the Government issued the Airside Alcohol Licensing at International Airports in England and Wales: Call for Evidence. Its aim was to understand the scale of the problem of drunk and disruptive passengers, the extent to which airports and airlines use the existing statutory powers and other measures to address the problem, the impact of the proposed application of the Act on all affected parties, and to assess the practicalities of administering a licensing regime airside.

"Since the Government launched the Call for Evidence on introducing alcohol licensing airside at international airports in England and Wales, we have seen the aviation industry and airports heavily impacted by the global pandemic of Covid-19. The pandemic has meant a significant delay to publishing this response, however these unique circumstances have not changed the decision that was reached.

"The Call for Evidence has not provided new evidence which makes a compelling case for extending all of the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 to airside premises. The premises which serve alcohol airside operate in a highly secure environment which function in a very different way to high streets and night-time economies across England and Wales.

"There would be limited benefit in requiring those premises to obtain a premises licence. Many safeguards that can be introduced by a local licensing regime like enhanced security, searches or CCTV are already in place within an airport. In any event, the provisions of the Act that prohibit the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 and purchasing alcohol on behalf of somebody who is under the age of 18, apply to the sale of alcohol whether they are made from licensed premises or not. The transient and short-term nature of the clientele mean that considerations around noise, or impact on residential areas for example are greatly reduced in this environment.

"In addition, there are already penalties in place to address drunkenness in passengers. It is an offence under the Air Navigation Order to be drunk on an aircraft and airlines have the authority to prevent passengers they believe are intoxicated from boarding aircraft.

"For these reasons, the government does not intend to extend all of the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 airside."