FlySafair vows to investigate alleged 'racism' incident on flight

2019-05-13 13:08
FlySafair has vowed to investigate an incident aboard one of its aeroplanes. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

FlySafair has vowed to investigate an incident aboard one of its aeroplanes. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Airline FlySafair is investigating an alleged racism incident on one of its aircraft on Sunday.

Social media personality Mihlali Ndamase accused the airline of racism, alleging that one of the airline staff referred to herself and friends as "animals", the Citizen reported.

The flight was FA 229 from George to Johannesburg on Sunday.

"At this stage, we are still gathering accounts from all involved. I have an appointment to speak with Ms Ndamase at 12:30 this afternoon and we'll then put out a comprehensive statement on the whole process," Kirby Gordon, FlySafair: Head of Sales and Distribution told News24 on Monday.

"What I can confirm is that Ms Ndamase and her travelling companions were deemed by the crew to be unruly and were escorted off the aircraft by [police] upon arrival at OR Tambo International," Gordon added.

'Comprehensive investigation'

In a statement, the company said it was conducting a "comprehensive investigation" into the incident.

"FlySafair would like to hereby acknowledge the social media statements issued by Mihlali Ndamase regarding her experience on a FlySafair flight this evening."

The airline added that the investigation should be completed by Monday afternoon and that it was in touch with Ndamase regarding the allegations.

Ndamase's Instagram post of the incident had 22 571 likes by Monday morning.

She alleged that police were called because her group was speaking loudly.

Also read: Dad sues Lanseria Airport for R3.5m after son breaks arm in baggage conveyor

According to Gordon, the airline's policy is to remove unruly passengers if they become abusive.

"We reserve the right to deny boarding to clearly intoxicated passengers but it does happen that intoxication levels only peak during the flight. It doesn't happen often.

"We operate about 2 240 flights a month and we might have one incident every other month, maybe slightly more during the festive season."

News24 reported in January that an unruly passenger was removed from a Kulula flight bound for Johannesburg.

In that case, Kulula argued that it would not allow its crew to be "verbally or physically abused".

Personal space

According to a study titled "Air Rage: What Factors Influence Airline Passenger Anger?" by Alexandra N Vredenburgh and Ilene B Zackowitz, confinement and a lack of personal space are contributing factors for passengers' anger on flights.

According to a 2016 publication by the Australian government, "Trends and Issues in crime and criminal justice", unruly passengers pose "a number of risks of harm".

The study advised that airline policy had a substantial effect on the management of unruly passengers and management strategies should include employee training, observation of passengers on the ground, responsible service of alcohol and identification and engagement with large groups of travellers, among others.

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