Millions of people have now watched the online footage of David Mesher branding a 77-year-old woman an “ugly black b*****d” and shouting: “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow.”
Mesher, who has been questioned by police over the incident on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London Stansted Airport on October 19, blamed the outburst on a “fit of temper.”
Speaking to “Good Morning Britain” from his home in Birmingham, England, Mesher said he flew off the handle at 77-year-old Delsie Gayle over a dispute about seating arrangements.
He told the ITV1 show: “I probably lost my temper a bit and ordered her to get up.
“I’m not a racist person by any means and it’s just a fit of temper at the time, I think.
“I apologize for all the distress you’ve had there and since.”
But his apology, which came a week after the episode was captured on camera by another passenger, has been rejected by Gayle, who also appeared on the show.
When asked if she accepted the apology, she said: “I don’t think so. You must forget and forgive but it’s going to take a long time for me to get over what he has done to me.”
Her daughter Carol, who was also on the flight, added: “He says he wasn’t racist — he wouldn’t be saying words like that if he wasn’t racist.”
The incident took place while the plane was on the ground at Barcelona Airport and flight operator Ryanair has come in for much criticism for failing to deal adequately with the situation and changing Gayle’s seat rather than removing Mesher from the flight.
Both Gayle and her daughter renewed their criticism of the airline, saying they still hadn’t heard from Ryanair directly.
The airline issued a lengthy statement on Twitter about the episode Friday — a week after it took place. It claimed to only have learned of the outburst a day later, after which it reported the episode to police in Essex, where Stansted Airport is situated.
“We provided the police with a copy of the video and relevant details of the two passengers involved. These prompt actions disprove the false claims that Ryanair did not respond ‘quickly’ or ‘appropriately’ to the video.”
They argue that staff did not directly witness the outburst and only became aware of the video the following day. They defended the decision to move Gayle, saying it was “at her request.”
The statement continued: “As far as the cabin crew were concerned, that was the end of the matter, and since there was no threat to aircraft safety, the issue of offloading one passenger did not arise.”
They say that they immediately contacted Gayle to apologize — something that both she and her daughter dispute.
Call for compensation
Robin Kiely, head of communications for Ryanair, added: “We again extend our very sincere apologies to this passenger for the regrettable, and unacceptable remarks that were made to her by an adjacent passenger, and we believe that by reporting this matter immediately to the Essex Police and by apologizing in writing to this customer early on Sunday morning, Ryanair treated it with the urgency and seriousness it warranted.”
More than 300,000 people have now signed an online petition calling for the airline to apologize to and compensate Gayle.
A spokesman for Essex Police told the Press Association: “There are agreed national protocols to follow when incidents are reported to have happened in another country. As such, we will be conducting an investigation to submit to the Spanish authorities in due course.”