An investigation has begun at Manchester airport after an 11-year-old boy boarded a flight to Rome without a passport, boarding card or ticket, by apparently tagging on to another family.At least five members of Jet2.com staff who work at the airport have been suspended following the incident on Tuesday afternoon at the start of the busy summer getaway as the airport was bustling with thousands of people.
Liam Corcoran had apparently run away from his mother while she was shopping at the Wythenshawe civic centre, close to the airport, on Tuesday and had been reported missing. He made his way to the airport, probably on foot.
When he arrived at terminal one, he followed another family, going unnoticed with thousands of people heading off on their summer holidays. Security staff scanned him but failed to realise he was on his own and had no boarding card, passport, tickets or money.
The boy then arrived in the departure lounge and headed to one of the gates where passengers were boarding Jet2.com flight LS791 to Rome. He managed to bypass a security check at the gate without being asked to show either a passport or a boarding card.
Once on the aircraft, none of the crew realised he did not have a boarding card as he took a seat. A headcount failed to alert them to the discrepancy.
The jet took off as normal and it was only during the journey to Italy that passengers became suspicious of the boy and told the cabin crew. The crew members alerted the captain who radioed back to Manchester.
Police at Manchester airport then called the boy’s mother to tell her that her son had been found safe and well – but that he was on a plane travelling to Italy.
The plane landed at Fiumicino airport in Rome where the boy was asked to remain on board while the other passengers left the aircraft. He remained on the plane, accompanied by flight crew, as it took off again to return to Manchester.
Manchester airport and Jet2.com have launched a full-scale investigation into how the boy managed to evade so many checks and end up in Italy. It is understood five members of staff working for Jet2.com have been suspended from duty while the investigation takes place.
The returning plane landed at 10.25pm on Tuesday and it is understood the boy was met by his mother and police officers before being interviewed.
Fellow passengers on the returning plane said they had been told the alarm was raised when Liam told people on the plane he was running away from home.
It is understood the return flight was delayed by 80 minutes while the plane’s crew were questioned by Italian border police.
Passenger Sarah Swayne, 26, from Nantwich, told the Manchester Evening News: “He was very talkative and seemed quite unfazed by it all. He was just sat there chatting away about how he’d been trying to run away from home.
“He seemed quite innocent really and I don’t think it had sunk in how serious the situation was.”
Another passenger, who did not wish to be named, told the newspaper: “When the plane touched down, he clearly didn’t want to get off but he was taken down the steps before everyone else and met at the bottom by a group of staff who quickly whisked him away.”
A Manchester airport spokesman said: “This extremely serious matter is now being urgently investigated. It is clear that documentation has not been checked correctly at security and the boarding gate.
“The boy went through full security screening so the safety of passengers and the aircraft was never compromised.” The airport said his return journey had been handled sensitively to avoid any further distress.
A spokesperson for Jet2.com said: “We are fully investigating the incident as a matter of urgency and the staff involved have been suspended during this investigation.”
John Greenway, a spokesman for Manchester airport, said: “We know that people are not very happy about it. The investigation will look at how this has happened. Jet2 will be looking at how this boy got on that aircraft.
“He’s evaded checks. He did go through the metal detector and didn’t sound any alarms. He wasn’t a danger to any of the passengers.”
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