While we’ve heard stories occasionally over the years of fights between airline crew members, last week I wrote about a story that was on a completely different level. There’s now an update, as Chinese authorities have taken action against the airline for the incident.
Pilot & flight attendant fight on Donghai Airlines
The South China Morning Post reported on a rather shocking situation that unfolded on a Donghai Airlines flight. Specifically, this happened on DZ6297, the February 20 flight from Nantong to Xian. This ~730 mile flight was operated by a Boeing 737-800. Long story short, there was an assault that left a flight attendant with a broken arm and a pilot with a missing tooth.
So, what happened? According to reports, the pilot had to use the bathroom during the flight. He noticed a first class passenger near the cockpit who also wanted to use the lavatory, and he asked the passenger to wait at their seat. The passenger ignored the pilot’s instructions, and when the pilot emerged from the lavatory he still saw the passenger standing there.
At this point the pilot confronted the flight attendant responsible for the first class cabin cabin, accusing him of “not doing his job properly and affecting flying safety.” An argument soon got out of control and became physical. The fight was allegedly initiated by the pilot, and this resulted in the flight attendant’s arm being broken, and the pilot losing a tooth.
Chinese authorities punish airline & employees
A bit over a week ago the airline publicly responded to this incident, as the story went viral on Weibo. At the time Donghai Airlines issued the following statement, confirming the assault, and stating that both employees were suspended:
“The company attached high importance to the argument among the crew members during flight and conducted a strict internal verification. Those staff members involved have been suspended their job to ensure flight safety.”
While that’s the action the airline took, Reuters reports that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has also taken action following an investigation.
- Donghai Airlines is being punished by not being allowed to add any new routes, flights, or capacity; it’s not known how long this policy will remain in place
- The pilot involved in the incident will have his license revoked
- The flight attendant will receive a “corresponding administrative punishment”
Interestingly in China this is a pretty standard punishment for airlines — if something goes wrong, they’re prevented from adding flights.
A fight between a pilot and flight attendant on a recent Donghai Airlines flight escalated to the point that there was a broken arm and missing tooth. The unprofessionalism here is just staggering, and I can’t even imagine what this must have been like for those who witnessed this situation.
While the airline had initially suspended both employees, the CAAC has taken action as well — Donghai Airlines is now prevented from expanding, the pilot has had his license revoked, and the flight attendant has also had action taken against him.
What do you make of this incident, and of the CAAC’s punishment?