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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Charter flight in air alert
Air traffic control
The flight was en-route to the resort of Bodrum
An inquiry has been launched in Turkey into an incident in which a holiday charter flight from Edinburgh was intercepted by fighter planes over Austria.

The MD 88 aircraft was en-route to the Turkish resort of Bodrum when it sparked the air alert.

According to authorities in Austria, the alarm was raised when there was no radio contact between the pilot and air traffic controllers.

Andreas Scherer of the Austrian public information department explained: "There were several attempts by the German and Austrian air traffic control centres, but they failed."

There was no danger for the passengers on the plane. It was business as usual for our pilots

Andreas Scherer

The civilian staff then contacted the Austrian military, which alerted two interceptor planes which were on exercise nearby.

They were able to reach the plane within minutes while it was flying at a height of approximately 10,000 metres in the Semmering area.

"They flew next to the aeroplane and the pilot of the civilian plane saw the interceptors and got in contact.

"After they had a short talk and they could be sure that everything was alright, they left," said Mr Scherer.

Radars had shown that the plane was on the correct flight course.

Heightened awareness

He did not know what information had been given to the passengers on board, but he said: "I am sure that when they looked out of the window they saw the interceptors.

"There was no danger for the passengers on the plane. It was business as usual for our pilots."

He said that such incidents did not happen very often, but acknowledged that there was a heightened sense of awareness following the terrorist attacks on America last month.

The plane, which was operated by Turkish company Onur, was on charter to holiday operator Sunquest.

The airline believes that there was a breakdown in hand over between Austrian and Munich air traffic control

Sunquest spokeswoman
Bodrum, on Turkey's Aegean coast, is a popular holiday destination for Britons and most of those on board the plane were thought to be Scots.

A Sunquest spokeswoman said: "Sunquest can confirm it had 172 passengers onboard Onur Air flight OHY628 from Edinburgh to Bodrum, in Turkey, on Monday, October 15.

"Onur Air has confirmed that on an otherwise routine flight there was a breakdown in normal handover procedures between one air traffic control centre and another which resulted in the aircraft leaving German airspace without having been handed over to Austrian air traffic control.

"The captain made several attempts without immediate success to re-establish contact with Munchen air traffic control, and also attempted contact with Austrian air traffic control using published radio frequencies.

"After a short period of time he successfully re-established contact with Munchen and became aware of the presence of military aircraft.

"The flight thereafter was successfully handed over to Budapest air traffic control and completed its planned trip.

"Onur Air have confirmed they are satisfied that this incident was not as a result of the failure of the aircraft or any of its systems and that the aircraft at all times maintained its planned route, airspeed and heading."

She added: "The airline believes that there was a breakdown in hand over between Austrian and Munich air traffic control."

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