Abusive passenger dumped on desert isle over swearing


Sat, Dec 31, 2005 - Page 1

When a middle-aged man swore at airline staff after he was refused a drink on a flight from Manchester, England, to Tenerife, he got a sunshine break he had not bargained for.

The pilot diverted the charter plane and dumped the troublesome holidaymaker 480km from his destination on a barren volcanic island off the west coast of Africa. The 53-year-old man was confined to the Portuguese-administered desert island of Porto Santo, which is 14km long and 5km wide, for 36 hours after local police questioned him over the incident.

According to the airline, Monarch, the man appeared to be drunk and repeatedly insulted cabin crew and fellow holidaymakers shortly after the Airbus A321 left Manchester on Tuesday evening.

The man, understood to be an Irish citizen living in the UK, ignored numerous appeals to calm down when he was refused further alcoholic drinks. As the plane reached its cruising height of 10,000m, the captain decided to make an unscheduled stop and throw him off the plane.

The man was frogmarched off the aircraft by police at the airport on the "golden isle," which is part of the Madeira archipelago.

His luggage was removed from the hold and searched. The captain gave a statement to police before taking off again with the remaining 211 passengers, arriving in Tenerife nearly four hours late.

"He wanted a drink," said Gualter Gomez, a spokesman for the Madeira police. "When he ordered a drink he was told `no' and so he caused a fight."

According to police, the new addition to the island's population of just 5,000 people was not detained in a cell and was released to enjoy the island's famed tranquility for 36 hours.

He traveled to nearby Madeira on Thursday morning, where he boarded a flight for Tenerife.