KLM has announced plans to cooperate with bodies including the Dutch government and Royal Schiphol Group to tackle the growing issue of unacceptable passenger behaviour.

The carrier said that it had a seen a 100 per cent increase in unruly passenger numbers compared to 2019, with an average of 30 unruly passengers per month recorded in 2023.

Around 60 per cent of incidents took place on board, with 40 per cent occurring in the departure hall, and KLM said that alcohol played a role in more than half of cases.

A letter of intent has been signed by Royal Schiphol Group NV, Transavia, KLM, TUI, Corendon Dutch Airlines, the Royal Marechaussee and the public prosecutor’s office, and follows similar industry-wide declarations made in Ireland and Norway.

Aims include examining how passengers can be made more effectively aware of the consequences of their behaviour, and how staff can be better trained to deal with such incidents. Earlier this year a digital report form was introduced to make it easier for staff to report unruly behaviour.

KLM and Transavia already share passenger data for individuals placed on the no-fly list for unacceptable behaviour, and signatories will investigate if such information could be shared between all Dutch airlines, subject to applicable legislation governing privacy.

KLM said that verbally aggressive or violent behaviour can cause safety risks, which can in turn lead to flight diversions and delays, adding that passengers misbehaving on KLM or Transavia flights face being banned for at least five years.

Earlier this year the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its own data on unruly incidents on flights, with occurrences rising from one in every 835 flights in 2021, to one in every 568 flights last year.

IATA said that the most common categorizations of incidents in 2022 were non-compliance, verbal abuse and intoxication, adding that while physical abuse incidents “remain very rare”, they had had “an alarming increase” of 61 per cent during 2021, occurring once every 17,200 flights.

Commenting on the news Leen van Duijn, VP KLM security services, said:

“As an airline, the safety and security of our passengers and crew is a top priority. For this reason, we don’t tolerate any form of aggression on board or on the ground. The consequences of passengers misbehaving are severe; it has a major impact on our passengers and our colleagues.

“No form of physical aggression towards our crew or fellow passengers is tolerated. Unfortunately, we have to note that the number of unruly passengers has increased sharply.

“What we experience in the air is a reflection of broader society. It’s therefore encouraging that this issue is being addressed jointly by the airline industry and government.”