A PRESS release has been issued by the Gibraltar Government concerning an incursion into Gibraltar airspace by a Spanish military aircraft.
According to the release, shortly before noon on Friday May 5 a report was received that a Spanish military P3 Orion aircraft, which was controlled by military controllers in Sevilla, was due to enter the air above Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
Although details of the flight plan were passed to Gibraltar Air Traffic Controller (ATC), for some reason the aircraft deviated from the flight plan which meant that Gibraltar ATC was forced to designate the aircraft as unknown traffic, which requires that the aircraft is separated from other traffic by either 5,000ft or five nautical miles.
A British Airways aircraft scheduled to depart from Gibraltar at 11.50am was therefore delayed and held for eight minutes on the runway until Gibraltar ATC was certain that the Spanish Military aircraft had left the area, assuring the required separation during the departure of the BA aircraft.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo, commented “It is no secret that Spain has been deliberately causing problems for Gibraltar at our border and through its incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. Today’s incursion into Gibraltar’s airspace, in the middle of a busy day when several civilian flights were scheduled to arrive and depart from Gibraltar International Airport, takes the Spanish harassment of Gibraltar to new heights.
“It is completely unacceptable that the Spanish military have interfered with the movement of civilian aircraft in this dangerous manner. Gibraltar International Airport is an extremely busy base for civilian passengers who are significant contributors to the tourism economy of the campo area.
“Delays caused by the politically-motivated manoeuvres of the Spanish military are intolerable but thanks to the swift action of Gibraltar’s Air Traffic Control, delays were the only consequence. Today’s incident could have ended much worse.”