A flight has turned back over an emergency in which a male passenger set himself on fire while allegedly trying to burn a flight attendant’s face.
The horrific incident, currently being investigated by Spanish police, occurred aboard a Monarch Airlines holiday jet flying from Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, to the English city of Birmingham.
British holidaymakers flying back home witnessed the drama, the Daily Mail reported.
The man apparently tried to spark a cigarette lighter in a flight attendant’s face, then somehow set himself on fire with lighter fuel. Injuries appear to have been limited to his hands and arms.
Passengers were delayed for more than seven hours because the flight had to be diverted through Portugal after the man with the lighter, and another person, were offloaded in Spain.
The airline confirmed that flight ZB933A left Tenerife South airport but turned back because of “the disruptive behaviour” of two passengers. The incident was not terror-related.
A spokesman told the paper that because crew operating hours expired during the diversion, the flight redeployed to Faro, Portugal where a new crew took over for the return flight to the UK.
Monarch prohibits “flammable materials e.g. lighter/heater fuels, petrol, paint, thinners, non-safety matches and fire lighters” from either hand or hold baggage. There is no specific mention of cigarette lighters on the prohibited items list on its website.
Monarch Airlines, also known simply as Monarch, is a British low-cost airline based at Luton Airport outside London. It operates scheduled flights to destinations in the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Turkey.
The aircraft involved in the fire incident was an Airbus A321. Monarch operates A320s and A321s and will in 2018 start receiving 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, which will replace its Airbus fleet.
Written by Peter Needham