Gun threat passenger diverts flight from Capital

The easyJet flight was forced to divert. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The easyJet flight was forced to divert. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A HOLIDAY jet was forced to make an emergency landing after an angry passenger claimed to have a gun.

The man, who was sitting near the back of the easyJet flight, was arrested by Portuguese police when the Edinburgh to Madeira service touched down more than 600 miles away in Lisbon.

Passengers told how a row broke out as the man behaved “disruptively” towards other travellers on board Monday’s journey to the popular holiday island.

Families said they had been left panic-stricken when crew members rushed through the plane as it suddenly began its descent.

It was only after landing that the pilot explained that the rowdy behaviour had left him no choice but to act.

One woman said hand luggage stored in overhead compartments was searched by the cabin crew during the diversion but no weapon was found.

She said: “We weren’t aware of trouble until we were told to fasten our seat belts as we were going to experience light turbulence. We were at the front of the plane and the disturbance was at the back.

“After about ten minutes, it became obvious we were descending and the captain said we were landing in Lisbon for a passenger to get off.

“At first we thought someone was ill but they hadn’t asked if anyone medically qualified was on board.”

After the plane landed in Lisbon, the captain emerged to tell passengers that police would be boarding the jet.

The woman said: “The police entered the rear of the plane and took the passenger off before coming back on and taking statements from the pilot and crew.”

She added: “Full credit to the captain and crew for their handling of the situation.

“The majority of passengers were not aware of trouble until we were in Lisbon.”

The plane finally arrived at Madeira’s Funchal airport two hours later than originally scheduled.

Passengers waiting there to return to Edinburgh from their holidays on the same plane were also delayed. 
A spokeswoman for easyJet apologised to passengers, but said the airline had no alternative but to land in Lisbon.

She said: “EasyJet can confirm that flight EZY6957 from Edinburgh to Funchal on August 1 diverted to Lisbon and was met by police due to a passenger behaving disruptively.

“EasyJet’s cabin crew are trained to assess and evaluate all situations and to act quickly and appropriately to ensure that the safety of the flight and other passengers is not compromised at any 

“Whilst such incidents are rare we take them very seriously, do not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour on board and always push for prosecution.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”