After being removed from an Avianca airline plane by the Federal Police, actor Érico Brás reported that he will get informed about the apropriate legal measures he can adopt against the airline.
In an interview to Agência Brasil, the black actor, member of the cast on television network Rede Globo, said he was treated rudely by a company’s employee, who was not identified, but that he believes to be the aircraft commander.
According to him, the episode happened in a Salvador-Rio de Janeiro flight Thursday (Mar. 31) morning. “My wife and I were flying from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. When she was loading the hand luggage compartment, the flight attendant recommended my wife to place the bag under the front seat because it did not fit in the overhead compartment. After that, another employee, who I believe to be the commander, came and was rude when telling her that the luggage could not be placed there. I asked him to find a place for the bag, but he abruptly picked up the object and tossed it in the overhead compartment, pressing against other luggage. My wife politely allerted him to the breakable objects inside [the bag]. I told him he could not act so disrespectfully and then he ordered me to leave the airplane,” reports the artist.
Brás also reported that after the incident, the employee—who he believes to be the aircraft commander—asked him and his wife to be removed from the plane as he considered him a threat to the flight. For that reason, the federal police was called to ask the actor to exit the plane.
“We have not refused [to exit] at any moment, but we have questioned the treatment we suffered because he was apparently nervous. Nevertheless, the police removed us from the plane on the grounds that the commander is the plane authority. I don’t understand how we posed a threat to the flight, if we were taken to another flight without police escort. Only an Avianca employee accompanied us,” explained Brás.
“I apologized to the other passengers, who had appointments, and, for that reason, I got off the plane without questioning the situation a lot. I made it clear that this was the only reason I would leave it, but I could not accept that kind of treatment, which I considered impolite,” he added.
Brás said that eight other passengers left the aircraft, along with him and his wife, expressing solidarity about the situation.
He reported that he filed a complaint with Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency ( ANAC) and the other passengers made an allegation against the employee’s attitude to Avianca’s ombudsman.
For the actor, despite not having heard offensive or racist words, the attitude of the probable commander reflects a frequent situation in Brazil: the intolerance towards race or social class. He also believes that since he is a Globo artist, the situation was intensified, because a more abrupt or pushy attitude could not be taken since he is a public person.
“We know that institutional racism exists, the one that is veiled and implicit in the behavior of some people,” he vented.
He said that the broadcaster where he works offered legal support and “we are evaluating possible court proceedings for the case,” said Érico Brás.
In a note, Avianca reported that “the passenger was removed from the flight by the federal police for refusing to comply with and agree to security requests repeatedly made by the attendants, who were strictly performing their duties.”
In addition, the company explained that the situation occurred with a flight attendant, but the request for removing the actor was made by the aircraft commander, since “he is the only person who has the authority.” ANAC confirmed the complaint made by Érico Brás and said that the responsible technical area “will check whether civil aviation rules were violated.”
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta