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Russian In Burqa Raises Suspicion,Plane Makes Priority Landing

A SpiceJet plane with 123 passengers onboard made a priority landing at the airport in Kolkata after the "suspicious" behaviour of a burqa-clad Russian woman passenger. The Delhi-Kolkata flight (SG 208) of the low-cost air carrier touched
PTI May 05, 2010 21:00 IST
PTI

A SpiceJet plane with 123 passengers onboard made a priority landing at the airport in Kolkata after the "suspicious" behaviour of a burqa-clad Russian woman passenger.

The Delhi-Kolkata flight (SG 208) of the low-cost air carrier touched down at the N S C Bose Airport at 11:23 am after being given clearance by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) to land ahead of other planes over Kolkata airspace, airport sources said.

The aircraft was immediately taken to an isolation bay and surrounded by CISF personnel, the bomb squad, fire brigade and police in line with an emergency drill for such a landing, the sources said. 

SpiceJet CEO Sanjan Aggarwal said the captain of the plane requested a priority landing after being alerted about a suspicious passenger by the sky marshal on board.

The airhostesses became suspicious when they found the woman, who had a manly physique, eating without taking off her veil and passing food to her husband, the sources said.  When questioned, Irbanieva Eieonora (42) replied in Russian which the airhosteses did not know.

The airhostesses then informed a senior colleague of their suspicions who alerted the pilot.  Eieonora and her 50-year-old husband Aslan Bekov Arthur from Chechnya, who were bound for Dhaka, were taken to the office of the airport manager where they were questioned.

Both were Russian passport holders and their papers were found to be in order, the sources said. 

There was no hijack threat to the SpiceJet aircraft, a Civil Aviation Ministry spokesperson said in New Delhi.

The emergency procedures, including meetings of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Crisis Management Group, which are followed in case of a hijack alert were not pursued, official sources said.

"The matter is currently under investigation by the relevant authorities.  All passengers have safely disembarked and the aircraft has been cleared for further flights," he said.  The couple left for Dhaka on board an Air India Express flight later in the evening. PTI