MP14, properly named the Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, is a global treaty that strengthens the powers of states to prosecute unruly passengers. It closes a legal gap under the Tokyo Convention 1963, whereby jurisdiction over offenses committed on board international flights rests with the state where the aircraft is registered. This causes issues when unruly passengers are delivered to the authorities upon landing in foreign territories.
Following the ratification of 22 states, The Montreal Protocol of 2014 (MP14) entered into force on 1 January 2020, enhancing the capacity of states to curb the escalation in the severity and frequency of unruly behavior on board aircraft.
In July 2020, Qatar became the latest country to ratify (MP14), making it the 23rd country globally and the 6th in Africa & the Middle East region to ratify it. By ratifying the protocol, Qatar has proved its commitment towards aviation safety despite the turbulent time that the world and the industry are going through due to COVID-19.
Unruly and disruptive passenger incidents on board flights include physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instructions. These incidents may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew.
The COVID19 situation is expected to bring additional challenges for airlines and crew such as risk of new types of unruly behavior which includes failing to follow instructions relating to COVID measures (e.g. wearing of face masks) due to the increased stress imposed on passengers through new processes and their overall travel experience which may lead to increased disputes between passengers or with the crew. ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) guidance recognizes the importance of the issue of treatment of unruly and disruptive passengers and state role in managing and preventing such occurrences. s
In addition to strengthening jurisdiction and enforcement, IATA and airlines are working on a range of measures to help prevent incidents and manage them more effectively when they do happen. These include enhanced crew training and raising awareness with passengers of the potential consequences of unruly behavior on board.
IATA also encourages states to review the effectiveness of the enforcement mechanisms available to them in line with ICAO Guidance on Legal Aspects of Unruly and Disruptive Passengers (ICAO Document 10117) which gives information on how civil and administrative fines and penalties can be used to supplement criminal prosecutions.
Qatar joins a growing list of States from the Middle East that are parties including Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt and Bahrain. Hopefully this will incentivize countries in the region and globally to follow suit.