The two passengers managed to exit the aircraft, which was being loaded with passengers and luggage, without being noticed and accessed Lisbon airport’s tarmac.
Speaking to Lusa News Agency, Fernando Henriques, coordinator of the SITAVA union for airport and aviation workers, said the incident happened at 10.30am on Sunday morning (2 July) as the TAP plane was prepping for its flight to Paris.
He explained two passengers managed to disembark the airoplanep and viciously assaulted a Groundforce worker, leaving him with suspected fractured ribs as well as a series of cuts and bruises.
Fernando Henriques stressed the aircraft was parked on a remote stand, meaning it was only accessible by passengers ferried to the plane on authorised airport transport, which the union spokesperson said means the airline is to be held responsible for the passengers managing to get off the plane.
“The two passengers descended onto the tarmac and, we assume, because we do not have confirmation of this, that they did it with the authorisation of the crew because we do not see how otherwise a passenger who is already inside the plane could leave without being seen by the crew”, he criticised.
Contacted by Lusa, a source for national airline TAP said the company was aware of the incident, through the Captain’s flight report, which registered the bad behaviour of two passengers, and said they had assaulted a ground worker.
According to the source the incident delayed the flight, but the source did not confirm whether or not the passengers were already inside the aircraft before it occurred.
A source from the Lisbon PSP Metropolitan Command, Cometlis, confirmed airport police had been called out because of the incident, and that the alleged attackers had been identified, but not arrested.
The PSP source said the two people in question did not travel on the flight they had seemingly already boarded, and was unaware whether they had departed on a different flight to Paris.
It was clarified that the employee in question now has six months to make a formal complaint.
Groundforce Press Officer, Joana Nunes, told Lusa that the company is working with authorities and that the employee does intend to press charges against the assailants.
She suggested the incident happened after the passengers saw the Groundforce worker handling their baggage “and did not like the way he was doing it.”
“They got off the plane, started arguing, and then attacked him”, she added.
SITAVA coordinator, Fernando Henriques, said the situation shows a “clear lack of security”, and pointed out more such incidents could happen, taking into account a projected passenger flow of over four million people this year, which could “trigger more delicate situations.”