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China penalizes Donghai Airlines for mid-air fistfight between crew members

Aviation Updates Philippines – Chinese carrier Donghai Airlines has been penalized by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) after a pilot and a flight attendant were involved in a fistfight on a recent domestic flight.

Wu Shijie, deputy director of the CAAC's Office of Aviation Safety, announced on Monday that Donghai Airlines will be prevented from launching flights to new destinations as well as adding flights and capacity to its existing routes. The official did not disclose how long these restrictions would remain in effect. 

Wu added that the pilot involved in the dispute will have his license revoked, while the flight attendant will receive a "corresponding administrative punishment."

The fistfight, which left the pilot with a missing tooth and the flight attendant with a broken arm, took place on February 20 onboard flight DZ6297 from Nantong (NTG) to Xian (XIY). 

According to details shared by passengers on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, the brawl began less than an hour before landing. The unidentified pilot was about to enter the first-class lavatory when he noticed a passenger approaching. The pilot asked the passenger to return to their seat and wait for their turn there, but the request was ignored.

When the pilot exited the lavatory and noticed the passenger standing by the door, he proceeded to scold the flight attendant assigned to the first-class cabin, accusing him of not doing his job properly and endangering the flight. The confrontation quickly turned violent, with both men receiving physical injuries.

Recordings of the incident went viral on Chinese social media in early March, prompting the CAAC to launch an investigation. In a statement, Donghai Airlines said both employees had been suspended.

The airline issued another statement on Monday, saying both the pilot and flight attendant would not be allowed to work for the company ever again. The airline also mentioned that several of the airline's executives had been fired and fined.

This is not the first time Donghai Airlines has earned the ire of aviation regulators in China, a country that has managed to maintain a strong air safety record for more than a decade.

In July of 2018, the Shenzhen-based carrier made headlines after one of its pilots bought a ticket for his wife from Nantong to Zhengzhou but allowed her to remain inside the plane all the way to Beijing. He had also reportedly insisted on allowing his wife inside the cockpit on three occasions, despite the disapproval of his fellow crew members. He was later fined 12,000 yuan and was suspended for six months. Two co-pilots, a flight attendant, and a security officer on board the flight were also fined.

Photo by Windmemories on Wikimedia Commons

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