The Federal Aviation Administration chief told TBEN on Thursday that there had been a worrying increase in disruptions on commercial flights in recent days, prompting the regulatory agency to issue a stricter enforcement policy.
“Really over the last few days we’ve seen an increase in the distribution of onboard incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with their behavior,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said on “Squawk on the Street “.
He said the episodes stemmed in part from failure to follow face mask policies, which were implemented during the coronavirus pandemic, and also in the wake of the deadly and pro-Trump riot on the U.S. Capitol this week. last.
The FAA’s new enforcement policy comes as airlines and airports improve security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
For example, American Airlines is suspending alcohol service on flights to and from Washington and Baltimore from Saturday to next Thursday. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline also implemented the suspension after the Capitol riot last week.
Delta Air Lines will not allow passengers flying to airports serving Washington to check their firearms, CEO Ed Bastian told TBEN on Thursday.
Dickson said his new FAA order would temporarily bolster his long-standing approach to flight disruptions.
Instead of issuing warnings or advice, the FAA intends to take legal action against “any passenger who attacks, threatens, intimidates or interferes with airline crew members,” according to a statement. Press. The order is in effect until March 30.
“I’m telling the inspectors, I’m telling my lawyers in the FAA’s legal office, that we need to speed up the fact-finding on all of these things. [incidents] and we will take immediate enforcement action in appropriate situations, ”Dickson told TBEN.
On Monday, in a letter viewed by TBEN, two key House Democrats called on the FAA to crack down on unruly passengers. Lawmakers pointed to media reports of politically motivated disruption in the days following the violent seizure of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Dickson agreed on the need to protect flight crews and passengers.
“Whenever we see such a trend, we must act because traveling on a commercial airline in the United States is the safest form of travel in human history,” he said. “I want to make sure it stays that way. “
– TBEN’s Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.