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Saturday, 18 August, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Diversion sparks air 'riot'
Gatwick Airport
The plane was diverted to Gatwick Airport
Air passengers threatened cabin crew in mid-air after their flight home was diverted because it was running low on fuel, it has been reported.

About 15 travellers threw beer cans and tried to break into the cockpit, according to a spokeswoman for the Transjet airline.

The incident happened after passenger heard their Cyprus to Manchester flight was being diverted to Gatwick Airport on Wednesday evening.

The plane had used more fuel than usual due to strong winds, and the captain realised that flying to Manchester would have broken regulations by depleting reserves.

Sussex Police attended the plane upon landing, but no arrests were made.

People felt there had been poor service and things seemed to escape out of control

Sussex Police detective
The Transjet spokeswoman said an announcement that the plane would be making an unscheduled stop had sparked outrage.

About 50 passengers became unruly and some 15 threw cans, spat at stewards and tried to force their way into the cockpit, she said.

Police at Gatwick were alerted by the captain, and boarded the McDonnell Douglas MD83 plane when it landed at 2020BST.

One detective who boarded the plane said: "We feared there would be major problems when we heard the numbers involved, but things calmed down when we arrived.

"People felt there had been poor service and things seemed to escape out of control.

"All we could do in the end was give people who might have been involved a stern ticking off."

The passengers were later transported to Manchester by bus.

Thomas Johansson, who runs Transjet, said the plane could have reached Manchester, but doing so would have breached regulations by using up too much of the reserve supply.

"There were around 15 passengers who behaved very badly. They were spitting and throwing beer cans and they tried to break into the cockpit.

"The captain decided to divert to Gatwick and he called the police but couldn't identify them."

See also:

23 Jul 01 | Trouble in the air
Controlling cabin fever
06 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Call for air rage treaty
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