False alarm at Madrid airport after bomb threat on plane

Madrid's Barajas airport was put on alert on Thursday after a Saudi Airlines pilot reported a threat.

False alarm at Madrid airport after bomb threat on plane

Passengers on a flight to Riyadh from Madrid were evacuated on Thursday after a note in English that read “11:30 bomb” was found pinned to the inside of the aircraft with a knife, police said.

The captain of the Saudi Airlines flight SVA226, travelling from Madrid to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, reported a “threat” on board and requested an evacuation. 

“Security forces and rescue services are mobilized. The plane was isolated and passengers evacuated,” a spokeswoman for AENA, the group that manages airports in Spain, told AFP. 

The spokeswoman said the airport was operating normally while security forces were inspecting the plane.

The flight with 95 passengers on board was due for take-off at 10.54am from Terminal Four of Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport but remained grounded.

Passengers were told they were leaving the plane because of “technical problems” according to several passengers who spoke to El Mundo. 



Cristina Cifuentes, the president of the Madrid region called for calm and said all those on board had been evacuated safely.

By 1.10pm the airport authorities lowered the level of alert from “general” to “local”.

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Spain’s AENA, world’s biggest airport operator, flies into the red

Spain's AENA, the world's biggest airport operator by passenger numbers, said Wednesday it plunged into the red last year as the coronavirus pandemic decimated the travel sector worldwide.

Spain's AENA, world's biggest airport operator, flies into the red
Photo: AFP

The company posted a net loss of nearly €127 million ($154 million) in 2020, its first since 2012. Analysts polled by Factset had forecast a loss of €205 million.

It handled 76 million passengers at the 46 airports which it manages in Spain last year, compared to over 275 million in 2019, the company said in a statement.

In addition to the airports it manages in Spain, AENA has direct and indirect shares in another 23 airports, including London Luton.

The rest are mainly in Latin America.

“There are no signs of a recovery in the short term due to the new wave of virus infections which is spreading in Europe and the different restrictions” on travel that have been put in place, the statement added.

AENA — which is 51 percent owned by the Spanish government — recorded revenues of €2.2 billion last year, a 50.2 percent drop compared to 2019.

The pandemic has pulverised Spain's key tourism industry with international arrivals dropping to 19 million in 2020, down from nearly 84 million the previous year.

The 77.3 percent decrease snapped a seven-year trend of annual records and ended a decade-long run of yearly increases.