Air New Zealand bans self-service of spirits at two Koru lounges after passenger becomes too drunk to board flight

Air New Zealand has banned the self-service of spirits at two of its Koru lounges after a member became so drunk she was unable to board her flight.

The ban has been implemented at the Queenstown and Dunedin Koru lounges.

In a statement on Wednesday, national coordinator for Alcohol Harm Prevention Inspector Ian Paulin said the police's Canterbury Alcohol Harm Reduction team spoke with Air New Zealand after a woman "was unable to board an aircraft due to her intoxication".

The conversation was about how Air New Zealand was monitoring the alcohol intake of its passengers.

"Following that conversation, Air New Zealand made the decision to remove the spirits to ensure they could be adequately monitored. They were not directed to do this by police," Insp Paulin told Newshub.

Alcohol Healthwatch's acting executive director Rebecca Williams said having self-service of alcohol in the first place raised a "number of concerns".

"This makes it extremely hard for the licensee/duty manager to monitor the alcohol use of patrons and thus ensure that they are not becoming intoxicated, and continue to serve intoxicated persons," Williams said.

"A licensee cannot hand over their responsibilities to patrons - it is their responsibility."

Williams added the spirits available have a high alcohol content that are around the 40 percent mark, compared to four of five percent for beer and around 12 percent for wine.

"You can get intoxicated very quickly on these beverages. The high alcohol content can also be masked by mixers," Williams said.

She said the alcohol being free in the Koru lounges also makes it easier for more people to consume more alcohol.

"This will definitely make it easier for larger volumes to be consumed, and potentially over short periods of time before a flight. Especially a risk if the staff are not there to monitor patron consumption and behaviour as required."

Williams said someone becoming so intoxicated they weren't able to board their flight showed there were a number of risk factors that contributed to the "harmful drinking".

Air New Zealand's Chief Operational Integrity and Safety officer David Morgan said the safety of Air New Zealand customers is their "biggest priority".

"We want to ensure our customers are still able to enjoy a drink at the bar in our lounges but also ensure they are safe and we [are] creating a responsible drinking environment," Morgan said.

"As Queenstown and Dunedin also function as international lounges, spirits were previously available however we have recently changed this so we now serve all spirits from behind the bar in Queenstown and we no longer offer spirits at the Dunedin lounge as it does not have a serviced bar."