American charged in Tokyo after fistfight on Los Angeles-bound ANA flight

A fistfight that broke out between two male passengers on an All Nippon Airways flight on Monday (May 1). PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

TOKYO (NYTIMES) - An American man who took part in a fistfight on a flight about to leave Tokyo for Los Angeles has been charged with assaulting an airline official, authorities said on Wednesday (May 3).

Video of the fight, taken by a passenger, has been widely circulated online. In it, a man wearing a red Hawaiian-style shirt punches a man in a black T-shirt, who fights back and then shouts: "Go to hell. This guy is crazy!"

Later, the man in the red shirt returns, more punches are exchanged, and a passenger can be heard pleading: "Hey guys, stop it. Get off this plane!"

A flight attendant tried to break up the fight as passengers looked on aghast or moved out of the way.

The fight occurred on Monday on All Nippon Airways Flight 6, or NH6, aboard a Boeing 777 that was about to embark on an 11-hour journey to Los Angeles International Airport from Narita International Airport outside Tokyo.

Mr Michihiko Aoi, a police official at Narita, said on Wednesday evening that "a man of American nationality in his 40s was taken off NH6, as he had flown into a rage and caused trouble on the plane".

The man was drunk, he added.

Mr Aoi's statement continued: "Today, we received several phone inquiries from the news media asking about the video taken inside the plane. The man was not charged over the incident recorded inside the plane, but because of the violence he inflicted on the ANA official, causing scratches on his forehead."

"We can't comment on the video as we don't know who took it, and also there are other people appearing in it," he added. "He was seen in the video, but we cannot confirm which one he is, or which colour shirt he wore."

The passenger who recorded the video, Mr Corey Hour, an Arizona-based photographer and cinematographer, has told CNN, The Washington Post and other news organisations that the man in the red shirt had started the fight.

"He literally just flipped," he told The Post, adding that the man in the red shirt had threatened to kill the other man. "Nobody knows why."

He told CNN: "The flight attendants actually got caught up in the mix, and that's when the video ends, as I put my phone down and I actually got in the middle of everyone and confronted him."

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