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Hawaiian Airlines CEO Expresses Dismay Over Assault of Flight Attendant

By Tiffany DeMasters
September 24, 2021, 10:12 AM HST
* Updated September 24, 10:18 AM
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Hawaiian Airlines CEO and president expressed his dismay over the assault of a flight attendant on an aircraft Hilo-bound from Honolulu Thursday morning, Sept. 23.

In a memo sent to employees Thursday afternoon, Peter Ingram thanked the crew and support teams for maintaining professionalism and executing protocols to keep the flight and guests and colleagues safe after a 32-year-old man reportedly assaulted a flight attendant walking the aisle, in an “unprovoked incident.”

The pilot returned to Daniel K. Inouye Airport where the unruly passenger was taken into federal custody and faces a charge of third-degree assault.

“Our Flight Attendant is understandably shaken up but is doing well. We are supporting the authorities in the investigation,” Ingram stated.

Ingram said Hawaiian Airlines has banned or denied boarding to 98 passengers so far this year for disruptive and dangerous behavior on their aircraft.

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In the memo, Ingram stated these incidents of unruly passengers are a hot topic in the media, of course, and each time another one happens “we are all rightly outraged. It’s entirely unacceptable.”

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“We are fortunate that we live in and serve a place that values community,” Ingram stated. “People in Hawaiʻi are uniquely interconnected and care for one another.”

Perhaps consequently, the CEO added, Hawaiian see these incidents with less frequency than some of its peers.

“Our Flight Attendants consistently deliver warmth and care while ensuring the safety of all who fly with us, which has been an especially tall order during this pandemic,” Ingram stated. “Mahalo, again, for taking care of one another and connecting people with aloha. We need more of it in the world.”

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Unruly passengers have been a concern of the Federal Aviation Administration for several months. As a result, the FAA instituted a zero-tolerance policy in January 2021.

Under this policy, the FAA no longer issues warning letters. Instead, it moves directly to fines, which have totaled $1.1 million to date, the FAA reports.

As of Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2021, FAA officials report the number of unruly passenger incidents during commercial flights has dropped significantly. As of last week, the FAA reports unruly passenger incidents were occurring approximately six times per every 10,000 flights. That’s an approximately 50% drop from early 2021, but it’s more than twice as high as the end of 2020.

Since the FAA launched its public awareness campaign with memes and two public service announcements, the rate has fallen approximately 30%.

“Our work is having an impact and the trend is moving in the right direction. But we need the progress to continue. This remains a serious safety threat, and one incident is one too many,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “The FAA will continue its Zero Tolerance policy, keep its public awareness campaign going, and keep pushing and partnering with everyone in the aviation system to do more. We appreciate the tremendous work of all our partners in the airline, airport, labor, and law enforcement communities.”

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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