Passengers travelling with easyJet to the Spanish island of Menorca yesterday got a shock when they looked out the window to see a fighter jet sitting alongside them. The plane arrived safely at its destination, whereupon the passengers were subjected to rigorous security checks by the Spanish Civil Guard.
F-18 Fighter Jet Escorts EasyJet Flight
Easyjet flight U23808 departed London Gatwick Airport at 13:36, according to data from Flightradar24.com. The take-off was almost an hour later than scheduled, though this is not especially unusual. However, the plane’s journey was further interrupted when an F-18 fighter jet was sighted on the right wing of the plane as the aircraft entered Spanish national Airspace.
@easyJet #a319 G-EZAO intercepted by Spanish Air Force on way to Menorca. passengers not being allowed to leave yet. @BigJetTVLIVE @BBCNews @SkyNews @SkyNewsBreak pic.twitter.com/MTWkQnU39x
— Ian Leslie ❤️🇺🇦❤️ (@iandrleslie) July 3, 2022
As can be seen in the video above, the Spanish Air Force fighter jet rocked its wings – signalling to the pilots of the EasyJet A319 to “follow me”, and indicating that they were getting a military escort. The flight then landed at Menorca Airport at 16:44, close to half an hour late, where it was then held on the runway for almost four hours whilst passengers and luggage were examined by the Spanish Civil Guard.
Why did the Flight get a Military Escort?
According to local news source SERMallorca, the military escort was initiated after a bomb threat was called in on the EasyJet flight. The bomb alarm was apparently associated with a group of young people travelling to the island for a celebration.
Un falso aviso de bomba en un vuelo Londres-Menorca de Easyjet ha provocado el aterrizaje del avión escoltado por un F18. La Guardia Civil ha confirmado que se trata de una falsa alarma. pic.twitter.com/nBaDQZTyCn
— SERmallorca (@SERmallorca) July 3, 2022
After landing on the runway, passengers were told to stay on the plane whilst security agents deposited luggage on the runway, accompanied by the explosives unit and a team of sniffer dogs. Passengers were then made to identify themselves and pick out their bags in the presence of the security team. After 3 hours and 51 minutes, the search was terminated by the Civil Guard, and regular service at the airport was resumed.
The Civil Guard confirmed that the bomb threat was a false alarm. This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that fighter jets have been called to escort a civilian flight. Last month, French fighter jets were called to look into the cockpit of an ITA airways flight, after both pilots reportedly fell asleep.
Aside from the EasyJet flight itself, which was delayed by three hours, only one other flight was disrupted by the incident at the airport. A Ryanair flight travelling to London arrived two hours later than scheduled.