'Air rage' attack on cockpit at 33,000ft

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The Independent Online

British holidaymakers started a fracas at 33,000 feet when their flight back to Manchester from Cyprus was diverted to Gatwick.

British holidaymakers started a fracas at 33,000 feet when their flight back to Manchester from Cyprus was diverted to Gatwick.

Enraged passengers spat at air stewards, pelted them with beer cans and tried to break into the cockpit.

The captain of the Transjet flight had decided to land at Gatwick because strong headwinds had left the aircraft short of fuel.

But the announcement of the diversion provoked outrage among the passengers, with a hard core of 15 leading the violence.

Police boarded the flight when it landed and questioned travellers, but they were unable to identify the ringleaders and made no arrests. A spokesman for Sussex police said: "We got a call from the airline saying about 50 passengers on the Transjet flight were being unruly. People felt there had been poor service and things seemed to escape out of control. All we could do in the end was give people who might have been involved a stern ticking-off."

Thomas Johansson, who runs Transjet, a small Swedish company, said the captain had enough fuel to get to Manchester but realised it would mean breaking rules by dipping too far into reserves.

He said: "There were around 15 passengers who behaved very badly. They were spitting and throwing beer cans and they tried to break into the cockpit."

The passengers were taken to Manchester by bus after the crew refused to get back on the flight.

Earlier this year, 24 people refused to fly on Transjet to Tenerife after smoke filled the cockpit before take-off.

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