UK tourists stage mutiny over Asian passengers

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The Independent Online

A holiday jet was grounded by worried passengers who staged a "mutiny" over fears that fellow travellers were acting suspiciously in the wake of the alleged terror plot to bring down planes.

The flight, from Malaga to Manchester, was delayed for three hours as police escorted the two Asian passengers from the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320, then conducted a security sweep of the plane. The men unnerved others waiting for the flight when they were overheard speaking in what was thought to be Arabic.

They were also wearing leather jackets and sweaters despite the heat of the southern Spanish city and were frequently glancing at their watches. The pair were taken to a hotel and then put on a later flight.

Six passengers had refused to get on board and word spread to those already on the flight and a number of people walked off the plane. Soon the pilot, police and airport security staff came to check their passports and then accompanied them off the flight.

College lecturer Jo Schofield, who was on the flight, told The Mail On Sunday: "There was no fuss or panic. People just calmly and quietly got off the plane. There were no racist taunts or any remarks directed at the men. It was an eerie scene, very quiet."

The incident, which happened on Wednesday morning, comes as sources warn that UK airports will be in chaos for the coming Bank Holiday weekend because security staff are overstretched. Recent tighter screening has left workers exhausted. BAA, which runs the big British airports, is reported to have told the Government that the current situation is "not sustainable".

Measures which may be introduced to ease the burden could include asking airlines to make cuts to their schedules to make the anti-terrorist checks more manageable.

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