Lyon airport incident: High-speed car chase on runway forces suspension of all take-offs and landings

More than 50 cancellations and 15 diversions to Geneva, Grenoble, Marseille and Nice

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 10 September 2018 12:46 BST
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Lyon airport incident: High speed car chase on runway forces suspension of all take-offs and landings

One of France’s busiest airports has been closed after a car was driven at high speed along the taxiways. Dozens of flights have been cancelled.

Pictures on social media from Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport show a white car being driven at high speed, pursued by police vehicles.

An individual, believed to be the driver, then runs across the airfield with police in pursuit on foot and in vehicles. He was arrested but has not yet been named.

It appears that the suspect was being chased by police along the adjacent A432 motorway, which runs parallel to the two north-south runways.

During and after the chaotic incident, which unfolded at about 11.30pm local time, flights were halted.

Eurocontrol said: “Runway unavailable until ++ 1600 utc (est) ++ due to incident on the airfield. Zero-rate regulation has been applied.”

This means that planes are not expected to arrive or depart until 6pm, French time.

Lyon, the fourth-busiest airport in France, is a key hub for both easyJet and Air France.

Many flights have been diverted, delayed or cancelled. According to data from Flightradar24, the last departure before the chase was Wizz Air to Warsaw at 11.20am, and the last arrival Transavia from Tunis at 11.15am.

The main diversion airports are Geneva, Grenoble, Marseille and Nice, which have in total received 15 flights carrying over 2,000 passengers between them.

More than half were to Geneva. But at 1.30pm local time, the airport declared it was unable to accept any more diversions.

Passengers on an easyJet flight from Toulouse were given a sequence of increasingly concerning messages.

Initially they were told: “Please be advised that there has been a security incident in Lyon airport. Currently, the airport is closed and flights are not departing.

“Unfortunately, this means that some disruption might happen to your flight today.”

Then the airline said: “We’re sorry to inform you that your flight will be diverting to Geneva, and we plan to continue with your journey by road to Lyon.”

But a third message read: “Unfortunately Geneva airport is unable to accept your flight this afternoon. We are currently working on a plan to continue your journey.”

Eventually they were told they would be landing in Grenoble.

More than 50 arrivals and departures have so far been cancelled, affecting 4,000-5,000 travellers. Passengers on an easyJet flight from Luton to Lyon were kept on the ground at the Bedfordshire airport for an hour before their flight was abruptly cancelled.

A Lufthansa flight from Munich to Lyon returned to its starting point, while a service from Frankfurt was cancelled outright.

Vueling services from Rome and Barcelona were among other early inbound cancellations, with the return legs also being grounded.

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