A large number of unruly passengers do not face prosecution because of the deficiencies in TC63
(Tokyo Convention 1963) – this is largely because the jurisdiction named for criminal offenders was (is) the state of
registry of the aircraft.
As such TC63 was not fit for purpose in terms of dealing with unruly behaviour on international
flights in the modern era. Accordingly, ICAO Member States agreed upon the text of a new protocol in 2014
amending TC63 – called the Montreal Protocol (MP14).
On the 14th of November, 2019 IALPG’s Joseph Wheeler visited Australia’s capital Canberra and presented to a group of 30 from the Asia Pacific Cabin Safety Group on the benefits
which the new protocol provides for governments, aviation operators, and passengers. These include:
1. Expanding the jurisdiction of governments to include not only the State in which the aircraft is registered
but also the State in which it lands, along with guarantees and conditions that legalize the exercise of jurisdiction.
2. Clarifying what is prohibited on the flights of the concerned airlines.
3. Recognizing the right of aviation operators to seek compensation for the cost resulting from the actions
of an unruly passenger.
The introduction of MP14 means in practice that many more States will feel empowered by international law
and their local law to deal with offending passengers offloaded or deplaned in their territorial jurisdiction. This in
turn likely means greater prospects of prosecution and conviction, or other means of dealing with such offenders
will be applied.
The guidance material (ICAO Manual) IALPG’s Joseph Wheeler worked on helps in a further regard: it provides a framework
and encouragement for States to put in place an Australian/NZ-like administrative sanctions regime to provide
alternate and faster means of bringing offenders to justice than typically available through criminal law. As such it recommends a variety
of fines and infringements for offenders should States wish to pursue such measures.
In our region, Singapore and Malaysia have ratified the MP14, which should be of some comfort to international
crews operating there, in terms of the likely support from local authorities to bring offenders to justice no matter
their nationality of residence.
Like all treaties the maximal use of it uniformly in international aviation comes from broad ratification, so it
is of more than symbolic significance if States like Australia and the US ratify it.
The Protocol enters force on 1 January 2020.