A pilot accidentally set off a hijack alarm sparking a major security alert at Schiphol airport in the Dutch city of Amsterdam. A major part of the airport was then closed off as police responded to the ‘threat’.
After an hour later, Air Europa announced that a pilot had accidentally triggered the alarm.
The airline in a tweet said: “False alarm. In the flight Amsterdam-Madrid this afternoon was activated, by mistake, a warning that triggers protocols on hijackings at the airport. Nothing has happened, all passengers are safe and sound waiting to fly soon. We deeply apologise.”
Shortly before their announcement, Dutch military police confirmed all passengers and staff had been safely evacuated from the Madrid-bound flight.
The airport’s D-pier was cordoned off to the public, with passengers waiting around for information.
Flights however still landed at other parts of the airport during the disruption.
The incident was described as a GRIP-3 situation, which meaning an incident or serious event with major consequences to a local population.
As per regulation documents by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pilots can use a special transponder beacon code, typing 7500, to raise an alert for unlawful interference in the case of a hijacking.
It remains unclear if this is what happened during the false alarm on Wednesday. The police have launched a probe.
Amsterdam’s airport is one of the busiest transport hubs in Europe, handling more than 70 million passengers a year.