Flight crew spat at, punched, police allege

Last updated 20:20 18/12/2012

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An international flight was diverted after a drunk Australian man allegedly tried to smoke a cigarette on the plane before punching and spitting on crew members.

The 34-year-old man was taken off the flight, en route from Sydney to Japan on Monday night, when it was diverted to Cairns.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) allege the man was heavily intoxicated and was abusive towards the crew and other passengers.

He had to be forcibly restrained by the crew and was arrested when the plane landed in Cairns, police said.

Assistant commissioner Shane Connelly said the public needed to remember that when they travelled on an aircraft their behaviour was subject to the law.

"Enough is enough. An aircraft captain and co-pilot can ill-afford to be distracted from their duties of safely flying an aircraft by having to deal with drunk, violent or disorderly passengers," he said.

"The cabin crew are there to make your flight safe and enjoyable.

"They should not have to restrain violent passengers, be abused or assaulted, or be interfered with in conducting their duties."

AFP responded to more than 1000 alcohol-related incidents at Australia's 10 major airports during the 2011-12 financial year.

Out of those incidents, 145 were for offences related to offensive and disorderly behaviour and excessive alcohol consumption.

AFP said the plane was forced to dump its fuel load when it diverted to Cairns and the airline would seek to recover significant costs.

The man was due to face Cairns Magistrate Court on Tuesday charged with smoking in an aircraft, disorderly and offensive behaviour on board an aircraft, and interfering with crew or aircraft.

The offences carry a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

He will also be charged with assaulting crew general, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

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