STRONG winds can make it very difficult for aircraft to land at Gibraltar airport and the decision to divert is made between Air Traffic Control and the pilot of the aircraft.
In the ‘bad old days’ even after the border with Spain was opened, any diversion had to be made to Tangiers where passengers were disembarked, sat for an hour or so then re-boarded so that their aircraft could fly to Malaga, thus arriving from a third party airport.
Nowadays, planes divert directly to Malaga where coaches collect the passengers and drive them to Gibraltar, going through customs and immigration.
Yesterday (Tuesday March 17) , an EasyJet flight from Bristol carrying a number of Gibraltarian students back home from their schools experienced the diversion because of the threat of gales and landed at Malaga airport safely.
On this occasion however they were reportedly told that no passenger could disembark although there were no reasons given at the time and eventually they were told that the plane would return to the UK with them on board.
As confusion reigned, it is reported that the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo became involved and it then transpired that although the Spanish authorities had cleared all Gibraltar passengers to disembark, they claimed that EasyJet had not booked any coaches to take them to Gibraltar.
Eventually all of the passengers returned home but today, March 18, it is understood that another EasyJet flight EZ 8901 from Gatwick to Gibraltar that was diverted to Malaga due to weather conditions returned to the UK with all of the passengers on board and it is suggested that this was because there were no EasyJet ground staff at Malaga airport.