Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
A Turkish man living in Austria flying home for a hair transplant is being sued for almost GBP 1 million after he started playing with the emergency exit door, and accidentally opened it as it was preparing to take off.
The 58-year-old man, who was resident in Austria, decided he needed a hair transplant to improve his looks and found that the cheapest place to get it done was back in Turkey, so he booked a flight on a Turkish Airlines flight, but got bored while it was waiting in a queue at the runway at Vienna airport.
The man, who had never flown in his life before, claims that none of the staff told him not to play with the door, and when he saw the red handle, decided to push it so that it was once again in a level position.
He told the Korneuburg District Court that he was basically bored while waiting for the flight to take off to Istanbul, and while chatting to passengers had started to play with the handle.
He told the court he admitted he had “played with the red handle”.
He said that “there was a small red hatch and a lever” and that after messing around with it, it appeared to be “stuck”.
He then realised that this was because the emergency door sequence was starting to operate and added: “I wanted to correct it, but it was already too late.”
Pulling the handle had released the evacuation slide while the plane was in motion, after which the crew instantly terminated take off and ordered the 157 passengers to leave the aircraft.
The release of the emergency exit resulted in damages of EUR one million (GBP 846,000) which included EUR 50,000 (GBP 42,000) for the replacement slide mounting alone as well as 15 people working continuously for 40 hours to repair it.
Additional costs included hotel accommodation for passengers affected that did not arrive to their destination on time and changes in the routing of other craft to accommodate the missed flight.
During the trial where the man is accused of endangering the safety of the flight by pulling the emergency handle as it was taking off, the proceedings were eventually adjourned because two witnesses failed to turn up.
In his defence, he claimed that it was in part the airline’s fault.
He said: “Nobody of the cabin crew pointed this out to me. I did not do anything consciously, I’m sorry, but it was never pointed out to me that I was sitting at the emergency exit and what could happen there.”
His lawyer Daniela Schiesl-Muller said: “My client did not do this on purpose.”
The trial continues again on 5th October, where the man will have to pay the full damages if convicted and also faces between one and 10 years in prison.