Ryanair's call for an early morning booze ban at airports has been labelled "highly draconian" by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
The airline made the call after a group of Irish-based holidaymakers forced an Ibiza-bound Ryanair flight from Dublin to divert to Paris on Saturday morning.
The group of up to 20 holidaymakers were involved in the drink-fuelled disturbance after which three passengers were removed and detained by French police .
"The behaviour of some individuals on the Ryanair flight in question was clearly unacceptable," a spokeswoman for the DAA said.
She pointed out that Dublin Airport had "worked in the past with Ryanair and other airlines, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), the gardaí and Airport Police on a joint education campaign to stress that such behaviour in totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the airport".
And she said that the airport would continue to work “with its airline customers and all other agencies in relation to this issue and will again remind the licence holders in its bars and restaurants of their responsibilities in this area”.
However, she said Ryanair’s suggested response was “a highly draconian one that would affect all passengers because of the behaviour of a very very small minority of airline travellers”.
Ryanair's chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs has said the airline might consider not selling alcohol on flights before 10am.
Mr Jacobs told RTÉ’s News at One that he believed alcohol was involved in the incident, but said it was a rare occurance when a flight had to be diverted.
He said that not only were the remaining passengers on board the original flight delayed and inconvenienced, but so too were 180 passengers in Ibiza awaiting a return flight.
He also expressed concern that with air traffic control disputes in the pipeline this summer, up to one in five flights each day would face delays, some of between six to eight hours. “Some people choose to spend those hours at the bar.”
He called on the DAA to introduce a system where people have to show their boarding pass to buy alcohol (as with duty free purchases), with a limit of two drinks. This would require only a small amount of effort and he felt that the vast majority of people would be happy with such an arrangement.
Earlier this month Ryanair came under fire for a “reckless” tweet posted by its social media team aimed at both Leaving Cert and A-Level students which, it was said, promoted binge drinking among young people.
“To all #LeavingCert and #ALevel students: plan your dream summer holiday now so you have something to look forward to,” the tweet reads. It is accompanied by an image of a young man passed out on a beach beside an empty wine bottle and finishes with the closing thought that: “this could be you”.
Alcohol Action Ireland spokesman Eunan McKinney criticised the airline for posing the tweet which, he said, smacked of hypocrisy and he expressed surprise that such promotional material would be endorsed by Ryanair while it also called for measures to be taken at UK airports to curb excessive drinking.
The airline rejected all criticism of the social media post. “Our social media team were merely reminiscing about their own first lads’/girls’ trip away, and recalling all the wonderful sightseeing, sing-songs and cultural activities they enjoyed as teenagers,” a spokesman told The Irish Times.