A California man has pleaded guilty to groping and kissing a 16-year-old girl on an Alaska Airlines flight last year, in a hearing which took place at a Seattle District Court on Wednesday (18 October).

The court had charged Jesse Salas, of Redondo Beach, California, with one misdemeanour count of simple assault on an aircraft earlier on Monday (16 October).

The incident had occurred on 22 June, 2016 when Salas was on a flight from Portland, Oregon to Anchorage, Alaska.

According to the plea agreement, Salas – who was 23 years old at the time – said he was seated next to the 16-year-old girl and after she closed her eyes, he grabbed her thigh.

The agreement states that despite the girl pushing Salas' hand away, he tried to kiss her on the mouth. When she fended off his advances again, Salas tried to put his hand inside her pants.

A nearby passenger saw the incident and called the flight attendant. The captain then diverted the plane to Seattle.

This is not the first time such an incident has taken place on Alaska Airlines. Earlier, an Oregon woman, Heidi McKinney, 27, was sentenced to eight months of home detention and three years of probation for licking and groping a fellow passenger on board an Alaska Airlines flight last year.

McKinney was arrested on 8 May, 2016 after the flight from Las Vegas, Nevada landed at Portland International Airport, Fox News reported. McKinney, from suburban Portland, had smuggled alcohol aboard the commercial flight.

The 19-year-old victim told police that she had been groped on the breast and genitals by her fellow female passenger.