Emirates says security issue forced plane to return to Athens

Airline said the decision followed call for additional checks from authorities

Greek authorities said they did not find anything or anyone suspicious on board flight EK209 on Monday, according to Reuters. AP
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An Emirates Boeing 777 was forced to return to Athens, Greece, shortly after take-off on Thursday because of a security issue, the airline said.

EK209 was bound for Newark, New Jersey, and had been in the air for two hours when it entered a holding pattern over Sardinia, according to flight tracking website Flight Radar24.

The aircraft then proceeded to return to Athens airport. The crew flew a different route avoiding terrain before landing at 21.57 local time.

Previous flight EK210 for Dubai was asked to return to its stand before take-off.

“Emirates can confirm flight EK210 from Athens to Dubai on November 10 returned to stand before take-off, and flight EK209 from Athens to Newark on November 10 also made an unscheduled return to Athens, because of security checks requested by the authorities,” an Emirates representative told The National.

This screenshot from Flight Radar24 shows EK209 returning to Athens airport shortly after takeoff.

“Passengers on flight EK209 have been rebooked to travel on November 11 and provided overnight accommodation. Emirates apologises for the inconvenience caused.”

The pilots may have flown back on a different route which did not pass over land for a variety of reasons, ranging from avoiding heavy traffic to concerns of an explosive on board.

According to Reuters, local police announced that nothing suspicious was found on the plane, after Greek authorities were tipped off by US authorities about a “suspicious” passenger.

Just after 9pm local time the plane, escorted by two fighter jets, landed back at the Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens for security checks, police sources said.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 12:10 PM