Belfast flight diverted because of 'abusive and drunk passenger'
An easyJet flight from Belfast to Lanzarote has been forced to make an emergency landing in Portugal after reports that a drunk passenger allegedly became abusive.
Flight EZY6731 took off from Belfast International at noon on Saturday, and was scheduled to arrive at the Spanish holiday island four hours later.
But as the packed A320 Airbus aircraft crossed the Bay of Biscay an hour or so into the 1,800 mile trip, a passenger was spotted allegedly behaving in a way which could have risked compromising the safety of the flight.
It's believed alcohol was involved.
The easyJet captain considered the passenger was engaging in behaviour that could jeopardize safety regulations, according to Portugal's Jornal do Noticias newspaper. The pilot took emergency action and decided to land the flight at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Oporto, where the alleged miscreant was removed from the cabin by Portuguese police.
It's understood he was detained in Portugal.
The flight continued on to Lanzarote afterwards.
One passenger, Seamus McAleavey, director of NICVA (NI Council for Voluntary Action) took to social media from the runway at Oporto to share details of the flight disruption.
"Belfast flight diverted to Oporto because of an abusive passenger, a young lad.
"Just been removed by police: a lot of trouble for everyone else.
"I suppose he 'enjoyed' himself at Belfast International Airport!"
Mr McAleavey continued: "Arrived about 90 minutes late.
"The young fellow will face the music in Portugal and easyJet will claim the costs off him. Pilot says £5k plus."
"A lot of people inconvenienced," he added.
In a statement issued last night, an easyJet spokesman confirmed that the flight had to be diverted.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: "EasyJet can confirm that flight EZY6731 from Belfast to Lanzarote on February 17, 2018 was diverted to Oporto and was met by police on arrival due to a passenger behaving disruptively.
"EasyJet's cabin crew are trained to assess and evaluate all incidents and act quickly and appropriately.
"After arriving in Oporto, the flight then continued on to Lanzarote."
The spokesman continued: "The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is always easyJet's highest priority.
"Whilst such incidents are rare we take them very seriously and do not tolerate abusive behaviour."
The name of the man said to have been removed from the aircraft has not yet been made public.