A British teenager faces a fine of up to £50,000 after being accused of making a false bomb threat on social media before an easyJet flight on Sunday.
An easyJet flight to Menorca was intercepted by a Spanish fighter plane on 3 July after a British teenager onboard allegedly made a threat on a social media channel.
Videos taken by passengers from inside the aircraft show an F-18 fighter jet closely following the commercial flight from London Gatwick as it approaches Menorca.
At one point, the jet can be seen tipping its wings, signalling to the pilot to follow it, while a passenger asks: “Why is it doing that?”
The Spanish Civil Guard confirmed that the military escort was issued after a threat to the flight was spotted on social media.
It said that once the plane landed at Menorca Airport, it was taken to a special area away from the terminal and other aircrafts to be inspected by bomb disposal experts and sniffer dogs.
Passengers were let off the plane before the inspection, but were not allowed to leave the airport for another four hours while local police investigated who made the threat.
Spain’s Civil Guard concluded that the bomb threat was false and confirmed that an 18-year-old has since been arrested.
A spokesperson for the Spanish Civil Guard said: “The Civil Guard has arrested an 18-year-old British national as the alleged author of a crime of public disorder in Mahon in Menorca.”
The passenger was reportedly “identified on social media, along with five other companions as witnesses”. The young man is now in police custody awaiting a court hearing, Spanish police told Reuters on Monday.
The spokesperson added: “They were taken to a police station so officers could clarify the situation”.
EasyJet has since confirmed the incident and said the situation had been dealt with.
A spokesperson said: “EasyJet can confirm flight EZY8303 from London Gatwick to Menorca was escorted by military aircraft while landing in Menorca and delayed disembarking due to precautionary security checks.
“The safety and security of its passengers and crew is always easyJet’s highest priority and we would like to thank passengers for their understanding.”
It is believed the teenager was travelling with a group of friends and he could now face a substantial fine, into tens of thousands of pounds, to cover the police operation and the military jet.
Aviation expert Julian Bray told The Sun, the military’s costs could be “anything over £50,000, possibly more”.
He added: “Plus, easyJet could take civil action, so it could be very hefty.
“They will look for reparations for the cost of investigating the plane, the time spend on the ground, checking all luggage, scrambling a new crew and pilot and subsequent delayed flights.”