| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Mallorca airport closed after fake emergency diverts plane

Divertion of an Air Arabia Maroc plane from Casablanca to Palma de Mallorca due to an apparent medical emergency, led to the closure of the airport for nearly four hours on Friday night.
When an ambulance arrived to take the allegedly ill passenger — who was reported to have fallen unconscious due to diabetes — to the hospital, he and around 20 passengers fled the plane and ran onto the tarmac.
Authorities believe the diversion was a deliberate attempt to help people to illegally enter Spain, the El Pais newspaper reported.
At least five people were arrested, including the passenger who raised the alarm. He was taken to the hospital and found to be medically fit.
He was later held on suspicion of “assisting in illegal immigration.”
His companion disappeared upon arrival at the hospital.
Investigators believe the remaining escapees managed to climb over the airport perimeter fence and disappear on the island.
Dozens of planes diverted, delayed
Airport operator Aena said 13 arriving planes were diverted, including to nearby Ibiza airport. Sixteen departing planes were grounded.
The airport reopened around midnight Friday after being closed for about four hours.
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands that sit in the Mediterranean off the eastern coast of mainland Spain.
The island is hugely popular with European tourists, and Palma airport is one of the busiest in Spain.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was used by up to 28 million passengers a year.
Spain is one of the countries that bears the brunt of illegal migration to Europe from Africa and the Middle East.
Its exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa regularly experience crowds of migrants and refugees who storm their border fences in large numbers.
Spain’s Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, have also seen an increase in migrant arrivals by boat.