Europe’s budget airline easyJet is “very concerned” and “urgently” seeking answers after a member of the airport staff punched a passenger who was holding a baby.
Fellow passenger Arabella Arkwright, 49, took a photo of the incident at Nice Airport, France, and posted it online. According to Arkwright, their flight had been scheduled to take off at 11 a.m. Saturday, but a mishap during the fueling of the plane delayed the flight for several hours.
After almost 12 hours of waiting, a passenger complained to the airport staff.
“The couple were showing some irritation, which was perfectly understandable in the circumstances, but she was not threatening and was just saying 'we've got children,' which is quite a normal thing to say,” said Arkwright.
A video later emerged of the irate woman stating, “This is a disgrace, we've got children, babies screaming, no nappies, no food. You are appalling.”
Instead of being apologetic, the airport worker smirked at the couple and then abruptly lunged at the woman’s husband, punching him in the face. The passenger was carrying a 9-month-old baby at the time.
Arkwright said her husband, 64, pulled the worker from the victim and “frogmarched” him to one side before police were called.
Both the passenger and the worker were taken away but other passengers demanded the man with the baby be allowed to board his flight.
“When he arrived on the plane, all the plane clapped him,” said Arkwright.
An easyJet spokesman said the person whacking the man in the photograph is believed to work for Nice Airport's special assistance provider Samsic.
"EasyJet is very concerned to see this picture and can confirm the person in the photo is not an easyJet member of staff and they do not work for easyJet's ground handling agents in Nice,” he said in the statement. “We are urgently taking this up with Nice Airport and their special assistance provider Samsic, who we understand the person photographed works for.”
The airline also apologized for the flight delay.
“Passengers were provided with updates and refreshment vouchers during this time and the flight landed in London Luton last night. The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is always easyJet's highest priority. EasyJet sincerely apologizes for the delay and thanks passengers for their patience," it said.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Phil Noble