Ryanair has apologised to passengers after a cabin crew member on a flight to Bari reportedly described it as "the city of the mafia and St Nicholas" in an on-board announcement.
Offended passengers wrote to the airline complaining about the comment, which occurred after the plane took off from Paris.
According to the report in the Telegraph, one woman wrote: "I feel terribly offended by the ridiculous way that you treat your passengers."
The flight attendant allegedly told passengers in English and French: "Welcome on board this Ryanair flight from Paris Beauvais to Bari, the city of the mafia and St Nicholas."
The southern city of Bari is the capital of the region of Puglia, which is the base for the Sacra Corona Unita, one of Italy's four main mafia groups.
And the mention of St Nicholas was a reference to fourth century Greek saint, San Nicola di Myra, who is buried in the city and became the model for Father Christmas.
Stephen McNamara, the head of communications at Ryanair, said the company "does not agree with these comments and will certainly address the problem with the employee concerned. Ryanair apologises for any offence it might have caused".
The Irish Examiner reports that Ryanair staff are aware that mystery passengers sometimes travel on flights to carry out audits, but are not aware of their identities.
Now, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has ruled that Giuseppe Vairo, from Bergamo in Italy, was not unfairly dismissed after his performance was assessed in this way.
Mystery passengers identified serious safety breaches by Mr Vairo, during two flights in 2009.
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