Plane tailed by NATO jets whofeared attack on EU summit

11th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 August 2004 , MADRID/BERLIN - NATO fighter jets intercepted a passenger airliner feared hijacked and heading for a European Union summit attended by 25 leaders earlier this year, the German Defence Ministry said Wednesday confirming a media report. The incident on 1 May during the European Union enlargement summit in Dublin - which apparently set off air defence warnings across western Europe - turned out to be a false alarm. Six fighters from Germany, France and the Netherlands pursued the Air Europa B

11 August 2004

MADRID/BERLIN - NATO fighter jets intercepted a passenger airliner feared hijacked and heading for a European Union summit attended by 25 leaders earlier this year, the German Defence Ministry said Wednesday confirming a media report.

The incident on 1 May during the European Union enlargement summit in Dublin - which apparently set off air defence warnings across western Europe - turned out to be a false alarm.

Six fighters from Germany, France and the Netherlands pursued the Air Europa Boeing 737 after air traffic controllers were unable to contact the passenger plane, said a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais

"The incident took place," said a German Defence Ministry spokesman, adding however that no German jets had taken part in the operation because German airspace had not been violated.

Defence ministry officials in Berlin declined to give further details and would not comment on the airline involved.

The Air Europa plane with 187 passengers and seven crew, was en route from Bergen in Norway to Palma de Majorca, said El Pais.

Air controllers in several countries were unable to contact the plane, prompting the fighters to be scrambled amid fear hijackers were about to stage an attack on the E.U. summit similar to those on 11 September 2001 in the United States.

Two French fighters positioned themselves on both sides of the plane and established radio contact with the pilots who told them everything was in order, said the paper.

The Air Europa pilots said they had heard the earlier radio messages but did not realize they were addressed to them.

El Pais said Dutch prosecutors have lodged a complaint against Air Europa for violating international aviation regulations. The daily based its report on a request sent by the judiciary in Haarlem to that of Palma de Majorca to interrogate the pilots.

"This shows that security systems function well," Air Europa spokesman Gerardo Arino commented.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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