Michael Cunnett was also ordered to pay compensation to the two easyJet employees following the incident at Gatwick Airport on 7 February.
After being asked not to use his e-cigarette, Cunnett became aggressive and punched one of the crew in the face. When another member of crew attempted to intervene, he too was punched in the face.
The 38-year-old plasterer, of Tonstall Road, Epsom, Surrey, was escorted from the flight – which had yet to depart – and his aggressive demeanour continued outside, where he was arrested.
Whilst on route to custody, he repeatedly kicked the van, causing damage. He was further arrested for this.
At Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday (2 April), he was jailed for seven months for interfering with aircrew and ordered to pay £500 compensation to each of the two men he assaulted. He faced no separate penalty for criminal damage.
Sergeant Ian Hatcher, of the Gatwick Prevention Team, said:
“This sentence reflects the seriousness of the offences committed, and we’d like to make it clear that disruptive or abusive behaviour at Gatwick Airport will not be tolerated.
“Police officers and airline staff have a right to go about their daily duties without being subjected to abuse. Cunnett’s actions were completely unacceptable, and he was arrested and charged with a number of offences accordingly.
“One of our force priorities is to keep people safe and feeling safe, and anyone who compromises this will be dealt with robustly.”
Recording-breaking start to 2019 for Gatwick
London Gatwick has achieved its busiest-ever start to a year, as passenger numbers grew by +4.0% in Q4, compared to 2018, as 9.7 million passengers travelled through in the first three months of 2019.
Long-haul growth was also strong in Q4, up +7.5%. This contributed to another month of healthy cargo growth, +7.2% quarter on quarter.
North Atlantic routes drove this busiest-ever start to a calendar year +15.3% on Q4 2018. Responding to this transatlantic demand, Virgin Atlantic and Delta have announced plans to grow at Gatwick – with new routes to Boston Logan and New York JFK from summer 2020 – adding to Gatwick’s over 250 flights each week to the USA.
It comes as Gatwick welcomed more passengers than ever during February half-term. 1.2 million passengers travelled through the airport between 15th and 24th February and an increase of +7% on the equivalent week last year.
Gatwick passengers are increasingly looking to go further afield at half-term with long-haul destinations up nearly 20% for the holiday period, as 1 in 6 Gatwick passengers are currently travelling to long-haul destinations. Popular long-haul half-term destinations include Dubai and Bridgetown joining short haul favourites Dublin, Barcelona and Geneva.
February also saw the start of easyJet’s new Dusseldorf service, which operates 11 times per week to the business and leisure destination, and is the fifth new route from the airline at Gatwick in recent months, joining Aqaba, Rovaniemi, Warsaw and Aarhus. This follows the addition of a new service to the Turkish capital, Ankara, from Turkish Airlines in January as the number of capital cities served by Gatwick now stands at 50.
In the three month period, domestic routes to Isle of Man and Glasgow saw growth of +9.0% and +5.0%, respectively. Meanwhile passengers using GatwickConnects, the airport’s service which enables passengers to book connecting flights via Gatwick, increased +80% from Edinburgh, +58% from Jersey and +50% from Belfast in Q4.
Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport said:
“Gatwick’s year has started as we mean the rest of 2019 to go on. Our pioneering spirit at the airport is driving for success in both the short and long term.
“In the immediate period, we continue to innovate, enabling new and established airlines to grow to all parts of the world – including most recently a new service to Rio de Janeiro.
“Looking ahead to further opportunities, we will publish the final version of Gatwick’s masterplan later this year, outlining potential options for future growth.’