Vicious air rage attack on hostess

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The Independent Online
AN AIR hostess was last night recovering in hospital after a passenger smashed a vodka bottle over her head, then raked her body with the broken glass.

Fiona Weir, who needed 18 stitches to her arm and back, last night told how she feared she would be killed, as the man attacked her as she cowered in a galley at the back of the aeroplane. The man was finally brought under control after four other passengers leapt on him, as Ms Weir staggered down the steps of the Airtours aircraft and fell on to the tarmac at Malaga Airport.

Police last night named the alleged assailant as 31-year-old Steven Handy, from Dover.

The attack was the latest in a series of violent incidents involving air passengers. Airtours last night called for the compilation of a list of troublemakers, to be kept by the Civil Aviation Authority and passed on to airlines.

Ms Weir, 31, from Wimbledon, in South West London, said the passenger had been causing trouble for over three hours, on flight AIH463 from Gatwick and police were called to the aircraft after it had arrived at Malaga. Ms Weir, who returned to work less than two weeks ago after her honeymoon, said she now had doubts about continuing her career.

Speaking from her hospital bed, she said:

"From nowhere this litre bottle of vodka came out and he hit me on the head. I fell to the floor and put my arm up to protect myself. He used the broken bottle on my back but then passengers pinned him down.

"I managed to open the door. Thank God there were stairs there. It wasn't fully open so he couldn't get out and I ran down the stairs and fell on to the tarmac. I cannot believe this disgusting, disgraceful thing happened on our airline."

Spanish police arrested the man on the aeroplane and he was being questioned over allegations of endangering an aircraft and assault, Airtours International said.

Mr Handy was expected to appear in a Spanish court today and Ms Weir is due to be there as a prosecution witness.

The attack comes in the week that rock star Ian Brown was released from prison on bail pending an appeal against his conviction and four month prison sentence for using threatening behaviour on an aircraft. The former Stone Roses frontman, 35, was jailed last week after magistrates in Manchester heard he had told an air stewardess that he would chop her hands off.

In May a 33-year-old businessman on a British Airways flight smashed a seat, indecently assaulted a stewardess and threatened to kill the pilot.

The incident was so serious that the flight to Orlando had to be diverted to Boston. In June another BA flight had to make an emergency landing in Tenerife after a drunken 53-year-old man tried to open a cabin door over the Atlantic.

Airtours have had their share of problems in the past, with a series of brawls and one incident in which a drunken passenger claimed that he was carrying a bomb.