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Safety - Regional news 24 February 2019

Kuwait doing its part in dealing with unruly passengers

Unruly and disruptive passenger incidents have become a significant issue jeopardizing flight safety and security. Recognizing the significance of this issue and the need to strengthen international air law, States concluded the MP14 in April 2014, amending the Tokyo Convention of 1963. MP14 provides a more robust framework and greater legal certainty by giving States the means to be able to take appropriate action against perpetrators for their misconduct. MP14 extends the jurisdiction over offences to the state of intended landing (destination) in addition to the state of aircraft registration. MP14 also gives greater clarity to what as a minimum constitutes unruly behavior and reinforces the right of airlines to seek recovery of the significant costs from unruly passengers. However, MP14 will only enter into force when 22 States have ratified it.

In January 2019, Kuwait became the latest country to ratify (MP14), making it the 16th country globally and the 4th in the Africa and Middle East Region to ratify it.  Kuwait’s ratification of the protocol will hopefully incentivize other countries to follow suit to allow MP14 to enter into force. The state of Kuwait has put aviation safety in the core of its priorities. This was culminated lately with the signing of a safety MoU with IATA that aims to exchange information, experiences and best practices in the field of aviation safety, including the adoption of two IATA safety audit programs: IOSA and ISAGO.

Unruly behavior threatens passenger safety, disrupts other passengers and crew causing delays and diversions. The behavior of the small minority of unruly passengers also adversely affects the travel experience of other passengers, causes operational disruption and leads to significant costs for airlines. But due to loopholes in existing laws, such offenses often remain unpunished. MP14 addresses those legal gaps by providing States with a clearer jurisdictional framework for dealing with unruly passengers, while preserving prosecutional discretion.

IATA is working on a multi-stakeholder approach focusing on enhancing the legal deterrent and supporting airlines to help prevent incidents from happening in the first place and improving the management of them when they do occur.  IATA urges States to prioritize the ratification of MP14 to put in place an international legal instrument which gives the international community the means to deal with unruly passengers more effectively, and to deter future incidents.

Kuwait joins a growing list of States from the region that are parties including Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain.

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