- The passenger refused to wear his mask and police escorted him off the aircraft.
- FlySafair says it has zero tolerance for non-compliance with regulations.
- It is unclear why the passenger refused to wear his mask.
A FlySafair flight was forced to turn back to the terminal on Saturday after a passenger refused to wear a mask.
According to the airline's spokesperson, Kirby Gordon, Flight FA288 was taxing towards the runway at OR Tambo International Airport after 17:00, about to take off to King Shaka International Airport when the incident happened.
The said passenger refused to wear his mask, leaving the airline crew and pilot with no other choice but to offload him.
"The gentleman refused to wear his mask, which is a national law, and civil aviation regulation and it happened before the aircraft took off.
"We, unfortunately, had to turn back to the terminal and he was escorted off the aircraft by SAPS," said Gordon.
Gordon aid the airline had no other alternative.
"The reality is that in this new normal, wearing a mask in a public space is the national law and it is also civil aviation regulation. So we need to enforce that rule with the same degree of vigilance that we would if, say, a passenger would sit down in an aircraft and light a cigarette or refuse to wear their seatbelt.
"Not following regulation and law puts our operating licence in jeopardy," the spokesperson said, adding that it was also about doing the right thing.
He added that the incident caused a slight delay and affected others too, but that they made up for the lost time.
As a matter of interest, he said that if a flight was midway and a passenger refused to comply with any regulations, the pilot would be allowed to decide to land at the nearest airport or return to where the flight departed from.
"In which case, we will hold the individual who was jeopardising everyone's safety liable for the costs to land that aircraft, then we take off again, which could easily be in the region of about R120 000," he said.