LIVERPOOL airport has the fourth highest number of airline passengers in the UK arrested on suspicion of being drunk in the past two years, new figures confirm.

Across the UK more than 400 drunken travellers were arrested from April 1 2017 to March 31 2019.

Of those, 40 were taken into custody by officers at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Passengers under the influence of drink have also been reported to have sexually abused staff, urinated in public and been unable fasten their seatbelts.

Figures obtained following freedom of information requests by the Press Association show at least 245 people were arrested on suspicion of being drunk at an airport in Britain between April 1 2017 and March 31 2019.

For the police forces that gave information, a further 204 arrests were made relating to alleged drunkenness on planes.

Passengers convicted of being drunk on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 or up to two years' imprisonment.

The sale of alcohol once a passenger has passed through security at international airports in England and Wales is not regulated by licensing laws.

This means rules intended to stop sales to drunk customers and prevent irresponsible promotions do not apply to them.

A Home Office consultation on whether legislation should be amended closed in February, but no decision has been announced.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, described the arrest figures as "ridiculous" and demanded the introduction of new laws to reduce the number of passengers who drink too much before and during flights.

He said: "There is no credible reason we've heard - other than commercial gain - why airport bars and duty free are not licensed in the same way as any pub or restaurant on the high street.

"Likewise, why are duty-free shops still able to sell miniature bottles of alcohol, including at the airport gate? We know miniatures are sold for one reason only - to encourage immediate consumption, including on the plane."

The ages of those detained ranged from 20 to 58.

The most arrests on aircraft or at airports were made at the UK's busiest airport, Heathrow (103).

This was followed by Gatwick (81), Glasgow (47) and Liverpool (40).

After Liverpool was Birmingham (39), Stansted (37), Luton (26), Edinburgh (22), Bristol (19), Newcastle (12) and Leeds Bradford (12).

The true numbers of drunk passengers arrested will almost certainly be higher as three forces - including Greater Manchester Police - did not provide figures within the time limit.

A request was also sent to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, but this was rejected on the grounds of cost.