Airlines want a ban on the sale of liquor in the security hold area (SHA) at domestic terminals of airports as they say drunk passengers on board can be a safety threat and inconvenience co-passengers and the crew.
Sale of liquor is permitted both at shops and pubs inside the SHA at airports after passengers have checked-in and have undergone the security check.
The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which represents IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir and raised the issue first, has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to intervene as this resulted in “huge flight delays” and inconvenienced other “travelling passengers and airline staff”.
“Several domestic airports in India have outlets in the SHA (domestic sector) selling alcohol thus allowing passengers to consume prohibited alcoholic drinks after they have checked-in and have undergone security check at the domestic terminal,” the FIA has said in a letter to the aviation regulator.
It pointed out to the Indian Aircraft Rules, 1937, which prohibits any intoxicated person from entering a aircraft.
“In view of the safety concern and to avoid any inconvenience to the travelling passengers, FIA requests you to kindly review the policy allowing sale of alcoholic drinks in the SHA at the airports and prohibit the same,” it said.
Airlines have pointed out that it was “difficult to identify” drunk passengers during the boarding process due to “limited time available for scrutiny”, which could lead to an “unsafe situation” in case the passenger becomes unruly on board.
“We will be taking up the matter again with DGCA as no action has yet been taken,” said an FIA official.
Aviation experts, however, have opposed the move.
“Liquor is served on international flights to and from India. The new integrated terminals that we have at Delhi and Mumbai serve both domestic and international flights. Do we stop liquor sale there as well?” Rajji Rai, former head of Travel Agents Association of India, asked.