Running Passengers Forces Temporary Airport Closure In Palma De Mallorca

One of the busiest airports in Spain, Palma de Mallorca (PMI), was temporarily shut down yesterday for four hours after a group of migrants tried to enter the country illegally. While on the route from Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) to Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) in Istanbul, Turkey, Air Arabia Maroc flight 437 made an emergency landing on the island of Mallorca.

Air Arabia Maroc Airbus A320 getty
Air Arabia Maroc flight 437 made an emergency landing in Mallorca due to a medical emergency. Photo: Getty Images

According to the BBC, the decision to make an emergency landing in Mallorca came after one of the passengers had reportedly suffered a diabetic coma. The escape happened when emergency services boarded the aircraft to transport the ill man to the hospital. As the door to the plane opened, 21 men left their seats and escaped down the steps onto the airport.

Spanish authorities temporarily closed the airport

Immediately after the incident had occurred, Spanish authorities closed down the airport to all traffic over safety concerns. Two of the passengers who were taken to Son Llàtzer Hospital in Palma were arrested. One attempted to escape while the other had reportedly faked or induced himself into a diabetic coma to force an emergency landing.

Officers from the Guardia Civil and the Spanish National Police surrounded the airport perimeter, looking for the escaping passengers. One of the escapees was found hiding, while another was arrested after attacking one of the officers. As for the rest, they managed to climb a perimeter fence and were seen fleeing in the direction of Marratxí, a town located six miles north of the airport.

PMI was closed for several hours as police looked for the runaway passengers. Photo: Wusel007 via Wikipedia

As the police widened their search, one man was arrested on the road into Palma and another in nearby pine woods. In total, 12 of the escapes have been taken into custody, with the search ongoing for the ones still missing.

Hear from aviation’s movers and shakers. Book your free ticket for the Future Flying Forum!

All of the people attempting to enter Spain illegally will be charged

All of the people attempting to enter Spain illegally will be charged under the country’s immigration laws, while other charges are also pending. It is being reported that some of the people arrested are refusing to make a statement while those that are talking all have widely contradicting views about what had taken place.

Police sources have officially referred to the incident as being a “flying patera” – patera is the Spanish word used to describe the small migrant boats that arrive in Mallorca from North Africa.

The combined Guardia Civil-National Police investigation into events on Friday at the airport seeks to establish further details. A possibility that is being looked into is that a small group organized it and that the others just fled the plane, thinking that they would be allowed to remain in Europe.

Air Arabia Maroc A320
The aircraft did not make it to its intended destination. Photo: Air Arabia Maroc

The aircraft returned to Casablanca following the incident

The Air Arabia Maroc Airbus A320-200 remained on the ground in Mallorca for several hours and then, rather than fly to its intended destination in Turkey, returned to Morocco.

What do you think about the incident? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.