A Qantas flight attendant who exposed himself to an air hostess mid-flight is likely to face seven years in prison. The man was charged with committing an indecent act and was scheduled to appear before a magistrate court on Tuesday.
The incident happened last April on a Qantas flight that was bound to Melbourne from Perth. The 54-year-old man allegedly exposed himself to his female co-worker causing "significant distress" to her, according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
"The woman allegedly sent texts during the flight to a friend about the man's alleged behaviour and her distress," the AFP said. "She first reported the allegations to police after returning to Perth a few days later."
The man, who was not identified, was charged in late 2019. The AFP said that the case "should serve as a warning" about such behaviour in the air. The man was scheduled to appear before Perth Magistrates Court in March, but the hearing was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. If convicted, the man would likely face a jail term for seven years.
'No Excuse For These Actions'
Steve Proud, a senior constable with the AFP, said there was "no excuse" for such behaviour and that incidents like these could be especially distressing in the confined space like that of a plane.
"This case should serve as a warning to people that illegal behaviour in the air will be prosecuted on the ground," Proud said.
The flight attendant, a resident of New South Wales, was terminated following a workplace investigation, according to a Qantas spokesman.
"As soon as this incident was reported we immediately conducted a workplace investigation and terminated his employment," the spokesman said. "We have zero tolerance for any form of harassment. Everyone has the right to feel safe and respected when they come to work."
Sexual harassment in the aviation industry has been widely documented. In 2018, a survey published by Australia's Transport Workers Union found that almost two-thirds of cabin crew faced sexual harassment. Of the 65 percent of the flight attendants who said they were sexually harassed, four out of five said their co-workers were the perpetrators. Moreover, 70 percent of cabin crew who face sexual harassment refused to report the incident over fears that it would aggravate the situation or that it would not be handled well by the management.