Plans to stop travellers enjoying an early morning tipple at airports in the United Kingdom has come under fire from a the head of a retail group representing major airports in the country.

This week, consultation ends on a recommendation to revoke licensing exemptions for  bars, pubs and shops operating in British airports, Telegraph Travel reports.

And it's not just the punters who are displeased with the potential changes, which have been put forward to reduce the number of drunk and unruly air passengers.

Francois Bourienne, the Chair of the UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF), said that the proposed legislation was unfair on those who behaved themselves.

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"It would make flying less fun for a lot of people," he told The Telegraph. "Why would you want to remove the freedom for the majority when they are behaving normally?"

"An American tourist when they fly out of Glasgow, or Manchester, on a morning flight would not be able to buy a bottle of whisky to take home with them."

The UKTRF represents more than a dozen UK airports, including Heathrow and Manchester, as well as Boots, Harrods and the World Duty Free Group.

Airlines, increasing dealing with badly behaved drunk passengers, have called for new rules to be introduced around the time of the day alcohol can be purchased in airports - with mornings off limit.

Airlines UK, which represents 13 British carriers, said there had been a 66 per cent rise in incidents involving drunk passengers between 2015 and 2018.

"While airlines do not want to stop passengers enjoying a pint or glass of wine at the start of their holiday, the sale of alcohol needs to be done responsibly," spokesperson Tim Alderslade told The Telegraph.

Duty free: Tourists on early flights will no longer be able to buy a bottle to take with them. Photo / Jeffrey Greenberg, Getty Images
Duty free: Tourists on early flights will no longer be able to buy a bottle to take with them. Photo / Jeffrey Greenberg, Getty Images

"We want to see common sense prevail and ensure bars and retailers airside come under the jurisdiction of the Licensing Act – as is common on the high street."

Studies have shown the British public also approve of the move. A 2017 survey carried out by the organisation found 80 per cent of adults supported revoking the exemption of licensing laws in airports.

However, Bourienne said airline staff needed better training on how to deal with drunk passengers and that many turned a "blind eye" to them during the rush to board a plane on time. He also told The Telegraph passengers often drank before arriving at the airport and while on the plane.

And it seems the airports are siding with the shops, pointing to the UK Aviation Industry Code of Practice on Disruptive Passengers that was introduced in 2016 and campaigns directed at travellers.

"As an industry, we take the issue of disruptive passengers very seriously," a spokesperson for the Airport Operators Association told The Telegraph.

"Passengers should be aware that consequences of such behaviour could include losing a holiday because they are denied boarding as well as fines, flight bans and prison sentences for the most serious offences."

The Code states that the penalties for disruptive drunken behaviour on flights varies according to severity.

The proposed legislation would also affect duty free sales - and retailers are not happy. Photo / Getty Images
The proposed legislation would also affect duty free sales - and retailers are not happy. Photo / Getty Images

"Acts of drunkenness on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 ($9475) and two years in prison. Endangering the safety of an aircraft can result in up to five years in prison," it reads.

"Disruptive passengers may also be asked to reimburse the airline with the cost of the diversion. Diversion costs typically range from £10,000 - £80,000 ($18,950 to $151,610) depending on the size of aircraft and where it diverts to."

However, Baroness McIntosh, chair of the House of Lords Select Committee, said the Code was not effective.

"It doesn't make any sense at all, we didn't hear one shred of evidence to show that the voluntary code was either working now or had any possible vestigate of success in working any time soon," she told the BBC's Panorama program, in an investigation into the issue.

The UK's Home Office is set to analyse the responses to its consultation on the matter, which will be published with the Government's policy intentions.

According to The Telegraph, the recommended legislation seems likely - so enjoy that morning drink at Heathrow while you can.