RPT-China punishes Donghai Airlines for crew's mid-air fight

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BEIJING, March 15 (Reuters) - China’s aviation regulator said on Monday it is suspending Donghai Airlines from adding new routes, flights and capacity after concluding an investigation into a mid-air dispute between crew members on a recent domestic flight.

The pilot, who, according to media outlet Caixin, blamed the head flight attendant for not clearing his way to the bathroom, will have his license revoked, Wu Shijie, deputy director of the Office of Aviation Safety at the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), told a monthly briefing.

The flight attendant will also receive corresponding administrative punishment, Wu added.

Wu did not specify how long the restrictions on routes, flights and capacity would last.

He also did not offer the details on the mid-air fight. Media reports, citing an aviation-focused Wechat account, said the fight between the two men had broken out 50 minutes before the flight landed and both men were injured.

Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines, which had said last week it had immediately suspended the crew members involved in the fight, could not be reached immediately for comment on Monday.

China is a stickler for aviation safety, after maintaining a strong safety record for over a decade.

In 2018, CAAC had reduced Air China’s Boeing 737 flights by 10% and cancelled licenses of the pilot and co-pilot after it found the co-pilot was smoking an e-cigarette, leading to an emergency landing. (Reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)