Palma airport on the Spanish island of Mallorca was put into lockdown for around five hours on Friday night after a group of passengers fled a plane that had made an emergency landing at the airport due to what turned out to be a fake medical emergency.
Around 20 passengers sprinted off the Airbus A320 aircraft shortly after it had landed on the island which is a popular destination for sun-seeking tourists from across Europe. Five passengers were detained by police but several jumped over the airport perimeter face and escaped onto the island.
The Air Arabia operated flight had departed Casablanca, Morrocco at around 5 pm on Friday for what should have been a four-hour flight to Istanbul. Instead, flight 3O-437 was forced to divert to Palma de Mallorca airport after a passenger faked falling into a diabetic coma.
When an ambulance arrived at the aircraft, a group of passengers jumped off the plane and sprinted across the tarmac.
Police quickly put the airport into lockdown and flights inbound to Mallorca had to be diverted to other airports across the region.
Authorities say five passengers were arrested including the suspect who faked an illness. He was taken to hospital but there was nothing medically wrong with him. A travelling partner who accompanied him to the hospital disappeared shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Several passengers managed to evade law enforcement in what is believed to have been a deliberate attempt to illegally enter Spain.
Airport operator Aena said a total of 13 flights were diverted to alternative airports, including five which were sent to Barcelona, four which diverted to Ibiza and two which landed in Menorca.
One plane was sent to Valencia, while the last was diverted 341 miles away to Madrid.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.