Thursday, 1 Jun 2023

Airport worker broke royal protocol when King was in front of him

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An airport worker who was unknowingly in the presence of the King of Spain accidentally broke protocol on live television. News crews caught the moment a worker disembarked stairs leading from the ramp of King Felipe VI’s jet directly behind the monarch after it touched down at Las Américas airport in Santo Domingo. Seemingly unaware of the man in front of him, the misunderstanding has divided locals in the Caribbean territory as the King arrived for the Ibero-American Summit last week.

Felipe landed in the country on March 23 ahead of the weekend summit and was due to meet Luis Abinader, the country’s president.

But as the plane landed and its ramp deployed, aircraft maintenance worker Adriano Colón, 63, was seen walking up to the platform.

As he walked back down after appearing to correct an issue, cameras captured him walking closely behind the King.

The move breached security protocol – as foreign dignitaries are meant to walk down the stairs from their planes unaccompanied – and quickly went viral.


The worker has prompted mixed reactions in Mr Colón’s home country, with some Dominicans laying on harsh criticism and others jumping to his defence online.

One commenter criticised his “lack of respect”, branding him an “uneducated man”.

Another said he “should be fired” and went as far as to say he “left a whole country in shame”.

Most of those watching the misstep sided with the worker, stating he likely didn’t know he had done anything wrong.

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One supportive commenter said he “did nothing wrong”, while another called on people to “excuse the ignorance of the gentleman”.

They added: “Remember that he was only doing his job and perhaps he was not given instructions.”

A third commenter concurred, saying: “That poor man does not know what he did.”

Mr Colón said he was unaware of the King’s presence when questioned by an employee of the Samsic Handling Dominicana holding company.

He said he saw an issue with the handrail of the plane’s staircase that was obstructing the aircraft door and went up to complete repairs.

He told security personnel: “I had no other intention than to correct the problem with the handrail on the stairs of the aircraft, which I was able to correct.”

Company employees backed their coworker, saying Mr Colón was a “very serious” worker.

They added he is an efficient and responsible aircraft maintenance employee.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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