“Nothing has happened, all passengers are safe and sound waiting to fly soon. We deeply apologize.”

By Alison Fox
November 07, 2019

A European airline apologized this week after a hijacking protocol was triggered but turned out to be a “false alarm.”

Pilots on an Air Europa flight, a Spanish-based airline, accidentally enlisted their hijacking notice as the flight was getting ready to take off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and head to Madrid, according to Bloomberg. As a result, the flight was delayed for more than three hours.

Air Europa confirmed that the alarm was accidentally triggered Wednesday, apologizing and assuring that everyone was safe. According to Bloomberg, the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that a pilot noticed the alarm button was accidentally pressed while showing an intern the transponder codes on the Airbus A330-200.

Officials then determined there was no hijacking after boarding the aircraft, Flight 1094.

“False Alarm. In the flight Amsterdam - Madrid, this afternoon was activated, by mistake, a warning that triggers protocols on hijackings at the airport,” Air Europa tweeted on Wednesday. “Nothing has happened, all passengers are safe and sound waiting to fly soon. We deeply apologize.”

About 15 minutes later, the airline tweeted that the flight would depart shortly.

At around 7:50 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Schiphol Airport first shared on social media that the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee was “investigating a situation on board of a plane.” Just under an hour later, the airport confirmed on Twitter that everyone was “safely off board” and the investigation was ongoing.

The inside of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. 
NurPhoto/Getty Images

By 10:17 p.m. local time, the airport shared that “terminals are now back to normal and operating as usual” and that while no flights were cancelled, “several dozen were delayed.”

The incident comes just days after the International Airlines Group, or IAG, agreed to buy Air Europa. The deal with IAG, which also owns British Airways and Iberia, is reported to be worth €1 billion, according to Forbes.

This is not the first time a pilot has accidentally sent out a hijacking alert. In February 2018, pilots on a Lufthansa flight accidentally triggered a hijack alert as the plane was landing in Frankfurt because of a technical problem in the cockpit. And in June 2018, JetBlue pilots about to take off from New York’s Kennedy Airport did the same after a radio glitch caused the plane to send out the false alert.

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