Woman in burqa grounds flight at Kolkata airport

Last Updated: Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 00:00

Kolkata: A SpiceJet flight with 123 passengers
on board had a scare on Wednesday after two Russian nationals
including a woman in burqa behaved "suspiciously" and the
plane made a priority landing at Kolkata airport.

The Delhi-Kolkata-Dhaka flight (SG 208) of the low-cost
air carrier touched down at the N S C Bose Airport at 11:23 am
after being given clearance by the Air Traffic Control(ATC) to
land ahead of other aircraft over Kolkata airspace, airport
sources said. All passengers were safe.
The aircraft was immediately taken to an isolation bay
and was surrounded by CISF personnel, the bomb squad, fire
brigade and the police in line with an emergency drill,
sources said.

The pilot was give a priority landing after passengers
reported the Russian couple to the air crew and the burqa-clad
woman passenger with a larage frame arousing the suspicion of
the air hostesses.

SpiceJet CEO Sanjan Aggarwal said the captain of the
flight requested for a priority landing after being alerted
about a suspicious passenger by the sky marshal on board.

The couple, who were bound for Dhaka, was reported to be
from Chechnya, a Russian province.

The burqa-clad woman Irbanieva Eieonora (42) and her
50-year-old husband Aslan Bekov Arthur were taken to the
office of the airport manager where they were questioned.

Both were Russian passport holders and their papers
were found to be in order, the sources said.

The confusion arose because of the woman passenger`s
manly physique and a language problem, the sources said.
The air hostesses became suspicious when they found
her eating without taking off her veil and passing food to her
husband, they said.

When questioned the woman passenger replied in Russian
which the airhosteses did not know.

The airhostess then informed a senior colleague of
their suspicions who alerted the pilot.

There was no hijack threat to the SpiceJet aircraft, a
Civil Aviation Ministry spokesperson said in New Delhi.

The emergency procedures, including meetings of the
Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Crisis Management
Group, which are followed in case of a hijack alert were not
pursued, official sources said.

On landing at Kolkata, the aircraft was taken to an
isolation bay and the security agencies checked all passengers
and baggage on arrival, Aggarwal said.

"The matter is currently under investigation by the
relevant authorities. All passengers have safely disembarked
and the aircraft has been cleared for further flights," he
said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 00:00

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