MAG to launch pilot scheme with "Best Bar None"
MAG becomes the first airport group in England to sign up to Home Office-backed scheme
I am pleased to see MAG and Best Bar None working together to help make sure air travel is a positive experience for everyone.
The Home Office-backed Best Bar None (BBN) programme today announced the launch of a pilot scheme with Manchester Airports Group (MAG), encompassing Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, in order to further improve standards of airside alcohol retailing across the UK’s biggest airport group and improve the travel experience for its 60 million passengers.
Best Bar None, which has been running for more than 15 years, works with the alcohol industry, police and local authorities to promote responsible alcohol consumption and higher professional licensing standards in hundreds of pubs, bars, clubs and entertainment venues across the UK.
Since the creation of an industry Code of Practice two years ago, the aviation sector has been working together to help reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents of disruptive behaviour. In November, the Home Office announced that it was launching a call for evidence to seek views on whether introducing alcohol licensing laws at airports in England and Wales could help tackle drunk and disruptive passengers on planes. It will also help to assess the impact that extending the Licensing Act 2003 might have on businesses. The call for evidence closes on 1 February 2019.
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins MP, said: “Air travel often marks the start of an exciting holiday abroad and airports are places to eat, drink and shop as we wait to board our flights. Most UK air passengers behave responsibly when flying, but any disruptive or drunk behaviour is entirely unacceptable.
“This government is committed to ensuring that the travelling environment for airline passengers remains safe and enjoyable.”
Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said: “Everyone should be able to enjoy their journeys through airports, which is why drunk and disruptive behaviour will not be tolerated and offenders face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
“We continue to work with airports and airlines to tackle disorderly passengers and I am pleased to see MAG and Best Bar None working together to help make sure air travel is a positive experience for everyone.”
Best Bar None spent considerable time preparing a scheme that would be compatible with the practicalities of airside alcohol retailing, before agreeing to work with MAG to deliver the pilot throughout 2019.
All outlets offering alcoholic drinks in MAG Airports currently operate to standards and procedures that are either equivalent to, or higher than is required, under licensing arrangements on high streets.
In the pilot, which will be rolled out in the next few weeks, around fifty venues across the three airports will be evaluated by Best Bar None qualified assessors with a view to gaining accreditation. Ongoing participation in the scheme is then expected to become a condition of trading in the airports. In addition, any staff working in MAG airport lounges will have to undertake and pass the Level 1 BIIAB Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing.
The stringent annual assessment encompasses the areas of operational standards, policies and procedures, as well as the education and training of staff. On successful completion of the audit, approved premises are welcomed into the BBN network and given a certificate and window-sticker to promote their achievement to the public.
For those who fail to reach the required standards expected on first audit, a comprehensive action plan will be provided to enable improvement to elevate the premises to BBN standards.
Graeme Elliott, Group Corporate Affairs Director, MAG, said: “We are proud to be the first airport group in England to sign up to Best Bar None. As an airport operator we believe our passengers have a right to buy alcohol in duty free or enjoy a drink in a bar or restaurant at the start of their holiday before their flight departs. But we are also clear that passengers drinking alcohol must always be responsible and should never impact on the enjoyment or safety of any other passenger.
“This scheme will help provide further assurance that MAG and our partners are doing our bit by demonstrating the highest standards of responsible alcohol sales, and we take every opportunity to remind passengers that if they are drunk they will not be able to fly. We also work with airlines, retailers and the police to help pass messages to colleagues around the airport, including airline staff at the gates, letting them know of potentially disruptive passengers.
“This partnership with Best Bar None is the latest example of MAG leading the industry in finding ways to further reduce the small number of incidents of alcohol-related disruptive behaviour and to create a safe and welcoming environment for all of the 60 million passengers that pass through our airports each year.”
Chairman of Best Bar None, Lord Smith of Hindhead, added: “The announcement today is really positive news and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Manchester Airport Group to develop an airport specific version of the Best Bar None scheme. Incidences of drunk and disorderly passengers in airports or on board aircraft are fortunately relatively few and far between, but when they do happen, they present a real threat to both staff and fellow passengers.
“Ensuring that all premises within airports are recognised for delivering the appropriate training, followed by rigorous checks and assessment through the Best Bar None scheme, will help to reinforce existing work being done to minimise any disruptive behaviour caused by excessive alcohol consumption. If the trial is successful, we will look to roll it out to more airports across the country, hopefully negating the need to introduce additional regulation through the implementation of high-street licensing laws in airports.”