Japan Airlines' staff members wearing protective face masks and gloves clean the cabin of a plane after performing a domestic flight as passengers disembarked at Haneda airport on the first day after the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency, in Tokyo, Japan, on May 26, 2020. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
An airline in Japan on Saturday removed a male passenger who refused to wear a face mask from a domestic flight, airline officials said Monday, in the latest case in which a flight operator refused service to a passenger due to fears over the novel coronavirus.
A subsidiary of Japan Airlines Co. said it forced the passenger to disembark from the flight before it took off on Saturday afternoon in northern Japan because he refused requests by the flight crew to put on a mask and would not say why.
"We decided that (the man's) actions ended up disrupting order on the plane," an official of Hokkaido Air System Co. said. "If there was an explanation, we would have made adjustments for him to take the flight without a mask, such as reserving other seats for him."
The male passenger, however, said after the incident that he often develops a rash or feels suffocated when he wears a mask, adding he did not want to talk about his condition in front of other passengers.
The flight, connecting Okushiri and Hakodate in Hokkaido, northern Japan, departed about 30 minutes behind schedule with 21 passengers aboard, according to the company.
The case follows a similar incident earlier this month. A plane operated by a subsidiary of ANA Holdings Inc. made an unscheduled landing during its flight to drop off a passenger who refused to wear a mask.
The Peach Aviation flight from Kushiro airport in Hokkaido landed at an airport midway through after the passenger raised his voice and intimidated the staff on the plane. The flight arrived at its destination at Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, about two hours and 15 minutes late.
The man who was ejected from Saturday's flight said, "I was worried because of what happened on Peach (Aviation), but I didn't think I would be kicked off."
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