Egypt-Bound Condor Airlines Flight DE490 Makes An Emergency Landing After An Alleged Bomb Threat
A plane full of German vacationers en route to the Egyptian coastal city of Hurghada from Berlin was diverted and searched Monday after a bomb threat was received. Condor flight DE490 was forced to make an emergency landing in Budapest. Condor Airlines, the plane's operator, told Reuters it had received an "unspecified threat" made via telephone, and ordered the plane to return from Serbian airspace and land in the Hungarian capital to be searched. National police did not find any explosive devices, a police spokesperson said.
The Airbus A321, the same model as the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Oct. 31, was unloaded and the 133 passengers, seven crew members, and all the luggage were thoroughly searched. Condor released a statement on its website: "Security is always the highest priority in aviation. The Airbus A321 will be inspected in Budapest according to administrative guidelines by Condor and the authorities."
In November, Russia finally agreed with Western intelligence officials that the Oct. 31 Metrojet plane was downed by a bomb. Russia had initially downplayed the possibility that an ISIS terrorist attack could be to blame, for risk of looking bad at home. ISIS said the attack was in retaliation for Russian bombing in Syria, which was already unpopular. The United Kingdom was the first country to announce the downing was caused by terrorism. But, after investigators found traces of explosives in the wreckage, there was no denying it for Russia either.
Egyptian airport security also came under fire with passengers telling stories of airport security personnel playing Candy Crush instead of watching bag x-rays at Sharm el-Sheikh's aiport, where the downed flight took off. Others reported unattended bags and airport workers that could pass into the airport without clearing security. British and then Russian flights were cancelled following the attack.
Germany and many other European nations did not cancel flights to Egypt, although a Lufthansa subsidiary did stop flying to Sharm el-Sheikh. Condor airlines said in their statement that another airplane would be dispatched to Budapest to pick up the stranded passengers and take them to Hurghada. Hurghada, like Sharm el-Sheikh, is on the Red Sea, but it is not on the Sinai peninsula; rather, it is on the country's East coast.
Another Condor flight was diverted in August in the United States. It was en route to Frankfurt, Germany, from Las Vegas when an unruly passenger led it to be escorted by air force jets to Denver. The FBI says it was a misunderstanding and no one was taken into custody. The Daily Mail later reported that the incident stemmed from a woman sneaking her cat onto the plane without a proper pet carrier.