A passenger plane bound for Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was intercepted by two F-16 fighter jets this morning after a miscommunication between the pilot and control tower led to reports of a hostage situation.
The plane was guided in to land at the airport just hours after parts of it were evacuated after a suspected World War II bomb was discovered by builders.
Two Dutch Defence Force F-16’s were scrambled from Volkel airbase, breaking the sound barrier to reach the Vueling 8366 aeroplane after Schiphol airport’s control tower reported that no radio contact could be made with the pilot.
The plane, which was travelling from Spain's Malaga-Costa del Sol airport, was immediately surrounded by security forces upon landing. It was parked at a remote corner of Schiphol, about two kilometers (1.5 miles) from the main terminal and surrounded by several ambulances, according to photographers at the scene.
Shortly after the plane landed, the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism reportedly confirmed “the possibility of a hostage situation” aboard flight VY8366.
A spokesperson for Spain's Vueling airline later said the reports that the plane had been hijacked were simply due to a miscommunication between the pilot and the control tower.
National Dutch broadcaster NOS spoke by phone with a person it identified as one of the passengers on board who said that the plane was calm and confirmed there was no hostage situation.
It is thought that it is standard procedure for the Royal Netherlands Air Force to scramble F-16s if there is no radio contact with an aeroplane's pilot.
Hours earlier, delays and cancellations were affecting passengers flying to and from Schiphol after an unexploded German World War II bomb was discovered by construction workers digging near Pier C, which connects the main plaza with Departure Hall One.
The 500kg explosive, uncovered during construction work, would be taken to a safe location and dismantled, the ministry said.
Schiphol was used as a military airfield by Nazi Germany during World War II and was often attacked by allied bombers during the fighting.
Now owned by the Dutch state, it is Europe's fifth busiest airport, handling around 45 million passengers travelling to and from almost all major European destinations every year.