An African man from London was escorted off a Gatwick bound easyJet flight by armed police after another white passenger told crew she did not feel safe travelling with him on board.
Mehary Yemane-Tesfagiorgis, 34, who lives in North London, was told by the captain he would need to get off the plane shortly before it was due to take off from Rome’s Fiumicino aiport.
Mr Mehary Yemane, who is of Eritrean heritage, said he felt devastated by the unfair treatment he received from easyJet cabin crew and the Italian police for the only reason that a fellow white passenger was not felt safe to board a flight with him who is black.
“I felt violated,’ he told ITV News London. ‘It was racial profiling and if she [the white woman] feels uncomfortable, she should get off the plane.”
Describing what happened, Mr Mehari Yemane said he had been waiting for the plane to leave Italy when a member of cabin crew asked him to step forward.
“I was then asked to come to the front of the cabin where I was greeted by armed police. I was asked to leave the plane by the captain, when asked why? He explained: “A fellow [white] passenger has stated that she does not feel safe with you on board”.”
Soon after, the poor African man was taken to the airport’s police station where he faced more questioning by the Italian authorities.
“I was subjected to further questioning and intimidation by the Italian authorities before being left to sit in the airport for a further 15 hours.”
A spokesman for the budget airline said: “easyJet can confirm that flight EZY5258 from Rome Fiumicino to London Gatwick on 29 March 2016 was delayed due to the police requesting that additional security checks were undertaken before departure.
“Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis was questioned by the authorities as a result of another [white] passenger reporting concerns about his behaviour.
“The safety and security of its passengers and crew is our highest priority and airlines have to take any security-related concerns seriously.
“easyJet re-booked Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis on the next flight from Rome to Gatwick after the authorities confirmed they were satisfied he could travel.”
Mr Mehary Yemane-Tesfagiorgis says he is seeking legal advice.