A passenger plane from TUI airlines which had taken off from the Greek island of Santorini for Brussels on Thursday had to make an emergency landing, the management of Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport said.
The Boeing 737 Belgian aircraft had mechanical issues and landed at 1:50 PM local time, Belgrade airport authorities said. They added that all 80 passengers and six crew left the aircraft safely and were awaiting TUI’s directions to continue to Brussels.
According to Serbian news reports, the plane reported an emergency as, according to preliminary reports, there was a fuel leak while flying over Tuzla in Bosnia and the pilot requested permission to land in Belgrade.
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TUI airlines was sent another aircraft to bring the passengers back to Belgian capital.
A Serbian aviation expert told the portal B92 that there is no information about what exactly caused the emergency, but he noted that it is very rare for an aircraft of this type to leak fuel.
He explained that the most common breakdowns in passenger planes, including this type of aircraft, are the failure of one of the engines, the entry of birds into the engine, and other minor failures that are also very rare.
The incident comes a few days after an international scheduled passenger flight from Athens International Airport, Greece, to Vilnius Airport, was diverted by the Belarusian government to Minsk after false reports that a bomb was on board.
Two of its passengers, opposition activist and journalist Roman Protasevich, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, were arrested by authorities.
The flight was escorted to Minsk by a Belarusian fighter jet under the pretense of a bomb threat on the orders of the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. The aircraft was allowed to depart after seven hours, reaching Vilnius eight and a half hours behind schedule.
The event was widely condemned by civil aviation authorities and a host of governments across the globe. Initially some European states and airlines responded with new restrictions on flights passing through and from Belarus; on the day after the incident, the European Union initiated new sanctions, including closing off Belarusian airspace and carriers to the EU.