Days after a violent passenger attacked a crew member on an American Airlines flight, the CEO of the fleet has warned that violent episodes must stop.
“Last night, American Airlines had one of the worst displays we’ve seen, when a passenger violently assaulted one of our flight attendants,” Doug Parker said in a video shared on Instagram.
“Thankfully, our flight attendant is recovering and we are making sure she and her fellow crew members have the support they need,” Mr Parker said.
A flight from New York to Santa Ana, California, on Wednesday was diverted to Denver after a passenger punched a flight attendant when she asked him to wear a mask. The attendant, while walking back down the aisle after the assault, had blood splattered on the outside of her mask, a passenger on the flight said.
The man who attacked her is believed to have been travelling in business class.
“Let me assure you, American Airlines will not tolerate airport or inflight misconduct of any kind, particularly to our crew members and airport team,” Mr Parker said in a stern message.
The passenger will never be allowed to fly on American Airlines again, he said.
“But that is not enough,” Mr Parker added. “This type of behaviour has to stop and the best deterrent is aggressive criminal prosecution. We’ll immediately engage local law enforcement and the FBI and [make sure] the individual is arrested soon after the landing.”
He added: “We’re doing everything we can to ensure he’s prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”
“But at the end of the day, while these interactions are not the norm, even one is too many, and they must stop,” the ceo said.
Incidents of outrage and violence, often resulting in misbehaviour and attacks towards flight crew, have seen a surge after the pandemic as many object to following Covid-19 safety protocols like covering their face with a mask.
At least 4,941 reports of unruly passenger incidents, including 3,580 related to pandemic face covering regulations, have emerged after US president Joe Biden tasked the Justice Department to “deal” with the rising number of incidents.
Enforcement action has been initiated in 216 cases, issuing more than $1m in proposed fines by the Federal Aviation Administration. The aviation body has pledged a “zero tolerance” approach towards violent incidents.
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