Airliner fakes emergency so passengers can watch soccer game
A chartered jet carrying 289 Gambian soccer fans pretended it needed to make an emergency landing so they could watch their team compete in the FIFA Under 17 World Championships, officials said Wednesday.
The plane, claiming to be low on fuel, landed Tuesday near the stadium in Peru's northern coast city of Piura.
"It truly was a scam," said Betty Maldonado, a spokeswoman for Peru's aviation authority, CORPAC. "They tricked the control tower, saying they were low on fuel."
Emergency crews were scrambled ahead of the unscheduled landing by the Lockhead L1011 Tri-Star, owned by Air Rum Ltd., Maldonado said.
The Air Rum plane, which she said was chartered by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, should have made its approach to the capital, Lima, but instead flew directly to Piura, entering Peruvian air space "without permission."
The passengers were permitted to attend African team's 3-1 victory over Qatar on Tuesday night, she added, but the plane remained in Piura on Wednesday while authorities determined what penalty, if any, to levy against the airline.
Gambian newspaper Daily Observer reported on its Web page Wednesday that the group of fans had been delayed for a week in a hotel in the small West African nation and were forced Friday to watch their country's victory over Brazil on television.