No significant increase of disruptive behaviour cases on board Singapore-based airlines: Iswaran
SINGAPORE: Amid recent cases of misbehaviour by air travellers, Transport Minister S Iswaran said on Monday (Nov 28) that there has not been any significant increase in cases of unruly behaviour on board Singapore carriers.
Mr Iswaran was responding to a question tabled by Member of Parliament Shawn Huang (PAP-Jurong) on what were the measures taken to safeguard cabin crew and passengers, and what enforcement actions cabin crew could have taken while the planes were still airborne.
In one case that happened in September, an American man flying to Singapore slapped a cabin crew member and falsely claimed there was a bomb on board a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight.
He was jailed over the assault and given a stern warning for the bomb hoax, after an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist found that his previously undiagnosed schizophrenia highly contributed to his offences.
On Nov 8, an SIA passenger — who was on a flight from Bangkok to Singapore — hit an employee on his connecting service to Copenhagen. He was escorted off the flight by auxiliary police and subsequently blacklisted by the airline.
In another case two weeks ago, a Scoot flight from Bali landed in Singapore later than expected because a group of passengers refused to fasten their seatbelts during the aircraft's descent.
Mr Iswaran said that there have been around 1.4 incidents per 1,000 flights over the past five years.
“The authorities have investigated the individuals responsible and taken appropriate action, including legal action, depending on the facts of the case,” he added in a written response.
Mr Iswaran noted that Singapore legally requires passengers to be seated with their seatbelts fastened at take-off and landing.
Individuals are also prohibited from boarding an aircraft when intoxicated and from becoming intoxicated in-flight, where they could jeopardise the safety and order of the aircraft.
“The pilot-in-command and aircrew members authorised by the pilot-in-command are empowered by law to take any reasonable measures, including physical restraint, to secure the safety of the aircraft in flight as well as the safety and wellbeing of all passengers and crew on board,” Mr Iswaran said.
“Airlines also train their frontline staff and crew to protect themselves while managing unruly or disruptive passengers,” he added.
On board flights, those who behave in a threatening, offensive, insulting or disorderly manner towards a crew member can be jailed for up to five years or fined up to S$100,000, or punished with both.
This falls under Singapore's Hijacking of Aircraft and Protection of Aircraft and International Airports Act.