Passenger rejects civil aviation administration finding

TN News

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Vietnam's national taekwondo team coach Le Minh Khuong says he will protest a decision by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) to fine him for disrupting a Vietnam Airlines flight last month.

Le Minh Khuong, 50, refused to sign the finding of CAAV's investigation at a Wednesday hearing. The CAAV inspectors found Khuong "had violated Vietnamese rules on airline safety, jeopardized the interests of other passengers and caused damage to Vietnam Airlines."

Khuong has maintained that the carrier's staff used undue violence against him.

Tran Thu Nam, Khuong's lawyer, said the inspectors' conclusion was not accurate and objective because it was based mostly on the testimonies of Vietnam Airlines' staff.

Khuong will petition the Ministry of Transport if CAAV levies the fine against him, Nam said.

On April 18, Khuong boarded a flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

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The pilots were forced to land their plane in Da Nang due to heavy rains. After the plane touched down at the Da Nang Airport, Khuong says he asked the chief flight attendant for permission to exit the plane and take another flight, because he had urgent business to take care of.

The chief flight attendant agreed and gave Khuong's boarding pass to the airport's ground services officers. After a while, the rain abated and Khuong was asked to return to his seat because the plane was about to take off.

Khuong said he followed instructions and asked the chief attendant to return his boarding pass.

According to him, when he was told it had been lost, an argument ensued and the attendant summoned airport security officers to the plane to intervene.

Khuong said the officers tasered him, twisted his arms behind his back and pulled his hair.

Vietnam Airlines released a report after the incident, containing an entirely different version of the events. The report claimed that upon landing in Da Nang, Khuong had headed for the plane's door and insisted on getting out, in spite of the captain's instructions for the passengers to remain seated until the rain subsided.

The report claimed that the stewardesses had informed passengers that the plane would take off in 40 minutes and asked Khuong to return to his seat.

The airline further alleged that Khuong picked a fight with the crew members while the plane remained on the runway.

He demanded that they give him his boarding pass back, refused to go back to his seat and yelled at the flight attendants.

After the captain taxied back to the terminal, Khuong was removed from the plane by security officers and handed over to Da Nang Airport authorities.

Vietnam Airlines maintains that its crew members and security officers did not do anything wrong. The passenger was forced off the plane because he did not comply with safety rules, putting the flight at risk, according to the airline.

After the airlines statement was published by local newspapers, at least three Vietnamese witnesses, including a famous film director and a pop singer, told the media they were on the coach's side.

The passengers claimed that the state-owned carrier's staff was not trained enough to deal with such situations and when they failed to persuade Khuong to remain seated, they resorted to violence.

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