An Easyjet flight heading from London to Menorca on Sunday was escorted by a Spanish fighter jet, after a British teenager on board made a bomb threat on social media, police have said.
The 18-year-old was traveling with five friends and once on the ground, having been escorted into Menorca airport by a Spanish Air Force F-18 jet, the teenager was detained, as for two hours the passengers were disembarked, one by one, and asked to identify their luggage, which was then checked by sniffer dogs and bomb disposal experts, the Civil Guard have said.
The youth was arrested and spent Sunday night in jail. He is now awaiting a court hearing.
Footage of the incident posted online showed an F-18 jet flying close to the distinctive orange wingtips of the commercial airline’s A-319 plane, which typically carries between 120 and 150 passengers.
The fighter jet is seen flapping its wings, a familiar gesture in aviation indicating that the other pilot should follow, while concerned passengers can be heard asking what’s going on, with a woman asking, “Why is he flying so close to us and doing that?”.
Military aircraft typically intercept civilian aircraft when ground-based air traffic control loses contact with them or there is a perceived threat to the aircraft or passengers, whether from a bomb warning, a suspicious object, or feared terrorist activity.
Other flights leaving Menorca were interrupted by the incident. An EasyJet spokesman confirmed that the EasyJet flight EZY8303, which left London Gatwick airport at 1:00 p.m, was escorted by a military aircraft and landed without problems at Menorca airport, in the Balearic Islands, half an hour late, just before 5:00 p.m. He added that precautionary security checks were carried out, but did not elaborate on the cause.
“The safety of its passengers and crew is always EasyJet’s top priority and we would like to thank passengers for their understanding,” he said.