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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2006, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Passengers' air hoax ordeal ends
Aer Arann aircraft
The aircraft was diverted to Prestwick on Friday evening
Passengers on a flight from Luton who were diverted to Prestwick following a bomb hoax have finally arrived in Galway in the Irish Republic.

Aer Arann Flight RE 508 was escorted to Prestwick in Ayrshire by two RAF jets on Friday evening.

The passengers stayed in a local hotel overnight and boarded another flight to Galway at about 1440 BST on Saturday.

A Labour MP has called for an emergency response review after the second alert handled by Prestwick in three days.

Staff at Dublin-based airline Aer Arann raised the alarm at about 2230 BST on Friday, shortly after take-off.

Crew were alerted by passengers when the word "bomb" and a picture of an arrow were scrawled on a seat table.

The aircraft was diverted to Prestwick, escorted by two Royal Air Force jets and the 53 passengers and crew disembarked safely.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport's staff and facilities coped well with the incident
Mark Rodwell
Prestwick Airport

Strathclyde Police said four crew members and 49 passengers, including a baby, were "evacuated as a priority from the plane" and interviewed by detectives.

"A full search of the plane was carried out and nothing of note found," a spokeswoman said. Police later confirmed the message was a hoax.

Passengers praised staff and condemned the "irresponsible" hoax.

They said they had to wait in the aircraft for an hour after landing, which caused some frustration and a fire alarm at their hotel on Saturday morning meant they were unable to get much sleep.

Taisce Gillespie, a footballer with Barnet FC, was sitting beside two passengers who found the message.

The 17-year-old said: "I thought the reason we landed at Prestwick was because they were prepared for the situation, which they didn't seem to be at all.

"The longer it went on people started getting frustrated but there wasn't any panic."

Alternative destination

Mr Gillespie said many people's Easter weekend had been ruined by a "stupid prank" and some had flown back to Luton instead of going on to Ireland.

Energy consultant Jim Bown, 61, said passengers were "well looked after" by air staff.

On Wednesday a Ryanair flight from Paris to Dublin was diverted to Prestwick, after a steward was passed a note saying there was a bomb on board. It also turned out to be a hoax.

Prestwick's chief executive Mark Rodwell praised his staff's handling of the latest incident.

"The airport remained operational throughout the incident, with aircraft operating on an alternative runway to the one on which the Aer Arann aircraft was positioned," he said in a statement.

Aer Arann plane
Airport managers praised the response of staff at Prestwick

"Glasgow Prestwick Airport's staff and facilities coped well with the incident."

Mr Rodwell said passengers were provided with tea and coffee when it became clear they would not be completing their journey on Friday evening.

The airport had no information to suggest the two incidents were linked, he added.

Cunninghame South MP Brian Donohoe has called for RAF Machrihanish, in Kintyre, to be used as an alternative destination for Prestwick Airport in the event of a terrorist alert.

"The disruption to Prestwick, its staff, passengers and the public living nearby is now such that alternatives should be looked at," he said.

"People living in the flight path have obviously expressed concerns and I think we need to look at alternatives, in particular MoD airports.

"Machrihanish seems to me to be perfect because it's not near a built-up area and it's a relatively short distance in terms of air-flight times."




SEE ALSO:
Flight diverted: Your accounts
12 Apr 06 |  Have Your Say


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