Not so “Nice”? An airport employee in Nice, France, has been suspended after allegedly punching a passenger who was holding a baby.
As reported by CNN, the incident occurred late Saturday as passengers were waiting to board a flight from Nice to London-Luton airport on the budget airline EasyJet. After being delayed for over 11 hours, passengers were expressing their frustrations to airport staff when the employee struck a man waiting in line who was holding a baby.
The assailant is reportedly an employee of Samsic, a subcontractor that provides “special assistance” at the Nice airport, on the Southeast coast of France.
Video published by the Sun appears to show the events leading up to the altercation. Passengers are heard complaining about the grueling delay and lack of food for babies and children. The Samsic employee appears to strike the phone out of the hand of the man holding the baby, after which the man pushes the employee, making contact with his forehead. The employee then fires a blow at the head of the passenger.
Fellow passenger Alex Athienitis told Metro.co.uk that the Samsic employee had been “goading” the frustrated passengers:
“The passengers of the delayed flight had been put onto a plane and then taken off so were not happy. I then heard some people arguing with EasyJet staff. They were angry they were not getting any info. He (airport worker) was laughing and goading passengers and seemed amused people were upset. He then hit the man after being asked why he was acting like that.”
The video published by the Sun appears to confirm this part of the story, as a passenger can be heard asking the employee “why are you smiling?”
Athienitis said the man holding the baby “backed off and calmly handed the baby to his partner,” who was “hysterical” after the incident.
Another traveler, Arabella Arkwright, photographed the altercation.
“It was awful the whole thing,” Arkwright told CNN. “I just can’t believe people can behave like that.”
She said that her 64-year-old husband restrained the assailant while waiting for police to respond to the scene.
Arkwright shared a shocking image of the assault on Twitter. She posted a subsequent Twitter message to EasyJet that “You owe an apology to everyone on board.”
— Arabella Ark (@ArabellaArkwri1) July 29, 2017
The airline released a statement in response.
“EasyJet is very concerned to see this picture and can confirm the person in the photo is not an EasyJet member of staff and they do not work for our ground handling agents. We are urgently taking this up with Nice Airport and their special assistance provider Samsic who we understand the person photographed works for.”
Arkwright told CNN that the man holding the baby was initially led away but was allowed to board the flight in time for its very delayed takeoff. She added that the victim had a visible mark on his face when he boarded the flight. She also wrote EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall a letter, which she shared with CrimeOnline. It reads, in part:
“I and a full planeload waited over 14 hours on Saturday at Nice for a delayed EasyJet flight to Luton – including a number of babies and small children. The lies, lack of information, disinterest of EasyJet’s skeleton staff coupled with the inefficiency of EasyJet in what should have been regarded as a customer service crisis and potential PR disaster has to be seen to be believed.
… And then after 13.5 hours delay an official took a swipe at the father of one of these small children who was understandably remonstrating with him for the appalling treatment received.
… In short , the whole saga was a disgrace ; the problem is a management one and , yes, that is YOUR responsibility.”
Jean-Francois Guitard, a director at Nice airport, told CNN that airport representatives were informed that the Samsic employee had been suspended.
“Clearly it is a misconduct situation,” Guitard said. “We apologize strongly about this situation regarding this passenger. There is no reason for a staff member to fight a passenger.”
Feature photo: Courtesy of Arabella Arkwright