A JUDGE in Palma has issued a provisional prison sentence to 12 young Moroccans who fled onto the runway at Palma de Mallorca airport on Friday night, causing the closure of the airport for several hours.
The Air Arabia Maroc flight from Casablanca to Istanbul made an emergency landing at Palma de Mallorca airport after reports of an ill passenger on Friday evening, Guardia Civil said.
When the doors were opened at around 8.30pm, a group of 21 passengers ran from the plane and 12 are still unaccounted for.
The 12 who have been jailed included the man who staged the illness onboard in order to secure an emergency landing at Palma’s airport.
The court heard that the man had faked a diabetic coma and was part of a massive Moroccan Facebook group called Brooklyn who were plotting to force the plane to land.
The events were ‘unprecedented’ in Spain, regional government spokeswoman Aina Calvo said.
Ms Calvo said it was while it was not uncommon for emergency landings to be requested at Palma’s airport, ‘what was not normal was that a group of passengers decided not to comply with international rules.’
Ms Calvo added: “These are people who have arrived, not by sea, but in an illegal way and therefore at the very least they will be returned to their country of origin.”
Airport operator Aena was forced to close the airport for more than three hours and flights due to land there were diverted to other airports, including Barcelona, Ibiza and Menorca.
The Majorca Daily Bulletin reported that most of those who escaped and subsequently arrested were found by the Guardia Civil, including one “caught walking along the road to Manacor”.
In total, 60 national and international flights were either diverted or delayed as a result.
Spain’s Palma de Mallorca airport closes after passengers block runways