A GROUP of passengers staged a mutiny on a plane at Barcelona airport in protest over a Senegalese immigrant being deported.
They managed to stop the Vueling flight, en route to Dakar, from taking off – but not indefinitely, since it left several hours later with the migrant still on board.
It was due to leave El Prat de Llobregat airport at 16.30 yesterday (Saturday), but when passengers heard the African man wailing in distress and found out what was happening, all 176 of them – moved by compassion for his plight – decided to stop the aircraft from taking off.
They all stood up, refusing to sit down and put their seatbelts on, saying they would not do so until the Senegalese man was allowed to stay.
After an hour and a half of protesting, the Guardia Civil boarded the aircraft and forced every single passenger to get off the plane.
Officers identified six of those who had started the protest and rallied the others, and they were cautioned and banned from flying.
Low-cost Barcelona-based airline Vueling mainly runs intra-European flights, but one connection a week links Barcelona with the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
And given how late the flight took off, the return plane from Dakar to Barcelona was unable to fly last night as the pilots and crew would have exceeded their maximum-allowed working hours.
Instead, the Dakar-Barcelona flight had to leave first thing this morning (Sunday), meaning Vueling had to pay hotel accommodation for 176 stranded passengers plus the usual compensation for flight cancellation or delays of over three hours.
The immigrant being deported had never actually made it onto Spanish soil – he had attempted to get into the country via Barcelona airport, but had no travel visa, nor any proof he may have been living legally in Spain – no foreign residents' ID card or work permit.
He is not thought to have tried to seek asylum – which, by definition, nearly always involves 'illegal' entry to a country – and it is not known whether he had family living in Spain.
If an illegal migrant successfully enters Spanish territory, he or she will be kept at an immigration centre until any residence or asylum applications are reviewed and either turned down or accepted.
But as the Senegalese man had not technically set foot in the country, Spanish authorities were legally able to deport him on the spot upon arrival.
He had boarded the plane escorted by two police officers, and handcuffed.