On the 10th of November, an Emirates Boeing 777 was forced to divert to Athens over claims of a suspicious passenger on board from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States.
The Boeing 777-300ER with registration A6-EQC was performing flight EK209 from Athens to Newark. The flight departed from Athens as scheduled and it was flying over Sardinia when the aircraft entered an extended holding pattern. Emirates operates a daily fifth freedom flight between Newark and Dubai, with stops in Athens in both directions.
After holding for around 30 minutes over Sardinia, the aircraft started to return to Greece and landed safely in Athens over 4.5 hours after departure. As the aircraft arrived closer to Greece, it was reportedly escorted by two Hellenic Air Force F-16 fighter jets. However, the 777 took an unusual route flying exclusively over water rather than land – a massive detour from its usual route.
According to local media, Italy and France did not permit the landing of the aircraft. This might be the reason behind the unusual returning route as well. Usually, it’s unusual for an aircraft to avoid flying over land in a significant detour.
According to passengers on board, after they arrived back in Athens, only those who boarded the flight at Athens were allowed to disembark while those connecting from Dubai remained onboard. Some reports suggested that the suspicious threat posing passenger may have been in the cargo hold of the aircraft.
Flight From Athens to Dubai Delayed
Flight EK209 wasn’t the only flight affected by the suspicious threat. Another Emirates flight, EK210 bound for Dubai from Athens was also delayed by several hours. The Dubai-bound 777 had already started to taxi to the runway. However, it was asked to return to the gate and passengers were asked to disembark the aircraft. Both flights were thoroughly searched, but the police did not find the person nor anything suspicious.
“Emirates can confirm flight EK210 from Athens to Dubai on 10 November returned to stand before take-off, and flight EK209 from Athens to Newark on 10 November also made an unscheduled return to Athens, due to security checks requested by the authorities.”Emirates spokesperson
“Passengers on flight EK209 have been rebooked to travel on 11 November and provided overnight accommodation. Emirates apologises for the inconvenience caused,” an Emirates spokesperson added.
Feature Image via Flightradar24