By ATSUSHI KAWADA/ Staff Writer
September 9, 2020 at 15:20 JST
Peach Aviation Ltd. aircraft lined up at a parking area in Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture in May (Atsushi Kawada)
Budget carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. made an unscheduled landing after a male passenger refused to wear a face mask and caused a major disturbance during a domestic flight when others complained.
The aircraft was en route from Kushiro Airport in Hokkaido to Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture on Sept. 7 and made an emergency landing at Niigata Airport to drop him off after the captain judged that the man's actions constituted threatening behavior.
Flight attendants requested the passenger to don a face mask as a precaution against the new coronavirus prior to departure from Kushiro Airport, but he refused, an airline representative told The Asahi Shimbun on Sept. 8.
About 120 passengers were aboard the aircraft.
Flight attendants asked passengers sitting close by to move to other seats for fear of becoming infected with the new coronavirus, causing the aircraft to depart around 1:15 p.m., 45 minutes behind schedule.
Even after the aircraft took off, the man kept yelling and berating other passengers. Flight attendants tried to get him to calm down, but he paid no attention to them.
The captain, acting under provisions of the Aviation Law judged that the passenger was compromising the safety of the flight and landed at Niigata Airport, where the man was forced to get off.
The aircraft took off again and arrived at Kansai Airport about two hours and 15 minutes late.
“We can ask passengers to wear face masks but we cannot force them to do so,” an airline official said. “We cannot refuse passengers from boarding even if they don’t wear one. On this occasion, the passenger disrupted the flight, so we forced him to get off.”
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