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Briton kicked off French flight after boarding with knife

A British national was ordered off an easyJet flight before it left France after he was found to have boarded with a knife. He also allegedly told a fellow passenger he "could bring the plane down”. But was it all a misunderstanding?

Briton kicked off French flight after boarding with knife
Passengersboard an easyJet flight at Toulouse-Blagnac airport.Photo: AFP

A British man caused panic on an easyJet flight from France to Britain after he was found to have had a 6cm knife in his hand luggage.

The incident occurred as the flight, from Toulouse-Blagnac airport to Bristol, was about to depart on Friday March 10th.

According to reports in the local French press, police entered the aircraft and began searching the hand luggage of the British man, who was sitting near the cockpit.

They found a 6cm to 7cm “butterfly” knife in his bag and the passenger was escorted off the flight, to the other passengers’ relief.

But then 30 minutes later the man was allowed to return and re-take his seat for the now-delayed flight to Bristol. According to reports, the passengers were having none of it.

Especially after one of them reported to a member of staff that they man had allegedly told them “he could bring down the plane if he wanted” as they were waiting to board the air craft.

According to reports in the La Depeche newspaper the public made their feelings known to staff and in a bid to calm their nerves the captain ordered the suspicious passenger back into the hands of police.

While initial reports of the incident gave reason to suggest the story of a man “with a worrying profile” who was able to board an aircraft with a knife should spark alarm, the incident has since been played down by airport border police in Toulouse.

While they have not responded to the The Local’s request for comment, a senior member of the force, told La Depeche newspaper that the British man “had the right to carry the knife on board”.

“The airport’s security teams, who checked the man’s hand luggage, did not commit any fault, given that the Leatherman knife (a kind of Swiss penknife) that they found is authorized on planes.”

In lines with European laws on airport checks “it is possible to board an aircraft with a knife whose blade is no bigger than 6cm,” the policeman explained.

He said the reason police boarded the plane to confiscate the knife is that several concerned passengers had spotted it during the security checks and complained to easyJet staff that he had been allowed to take it on board.

And when it came to the passenger’s alleged statement to fellow flyers that he could “bring down the aircraft if he wanted”, the deputy director of the Haute-Garonne border police suggested “a word or a phrase, had been badly understood”.

Whether it was a misunderstanding or not and even if the man was within his legal rights to take a small knife on board, the panicked passengers were not willing to have him on board their flight.

Once he was removed for a second time by the captain, police looked into his profile but he did not present any worrying history that would have justified him not being able to fly.

He was later released without charge. Although it is not clear whether he took an alternative flight to the UK.

As for the plane he was kicked off, it took off two hours later with a group of nervous passengers. Their nerves were shredded even further when they were told a technical problem meant the engine was making some strange noises during the flight, although thankfully it wasn’t considered a serious problem.

The incident occurred just a day after a radicalized Frenchman was able to board a Ryanair flight from Nantes to Morocco, whilst carrying knives and a gas bottle in his luggage in the hold.

The Local has requested a comment on this story from easyJet.

Were you one of the passengers on he flight? If so email us at [email protected]

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TRAVEL

Paris set to test its first flying airport taxis this summer

Paris says it will test its first flying taxis in June, the first step in an ambitious plan to establish a fully-functioning air network by 2030.

Paris set to test its first flying airport taxis this summer
A Volocopter air taxi is presented at the Pontoise airport in Cormeilles-en-Vexin, on September 30th 2020. Photo: AFP

Travel of any kind seems like a distant dream at the moment, but if all goes to plan, Parisians may be able to take a flying taxi to the airport in 2030.

RATP, which runs the Paris public transport system, is in the process of working together with Aéroports de Paris (ADP) and Choose Paris Region, the government agency set up to promote the French capital, on getting the new taxi system up and flying. 

“We're envisaging some thousand flights per day,” Marie-Claude Dupuis, director of strategy, innovation and development at RATP, told Le Figaro.

While they won't be fully operating until 2030 at the earliest, the first flying taxis will apparently do test runs in June 2021.

“During the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, our goal is to do demonstration flights with people on board,” said Dupuis.

By then, “three operators should be operational,” she said.

On Monday, RATP, ADP and Choose Paris Region decided on 31 companies out of 150 candidates who will be part of the new ecosystem.

Among them were Volocopter (German), Airbus, Ehang (Chinese) and Pipistrel (Slovenian).
 
Saves time

France is not alone in looking to move traffic off its roads and up in the air. As countries worldwide want to upgrade their urban mobility, businesses are jumping on the trend to join the booming market.

IN PICTURES: Paris tests out new 'flying' water taxi as way to beat the traffic

 

Edward Arkwright, Managing Director of ADP, told Le Parisien the taxis “do not only inspire dreams, but have intrinsic qualities: greatly reduced noise, a low-carbon means of transport, a lower cost of maintenance and infrastructure, and offers relatively high value on saving time.”
 
 
Paris already has “Sea Bubble”, flying electric taxis driving on the Seine river. Photo: AFP
 
The flying taxis, which look like tiny helicopters, will be able to transport travellers from the French capital to the airport or back in a fraction of the time it takes with a regular taxi or public transport. 

A 40-minute journey (depending on traffic) from La Défense, west of the French capital, to the northern airport Charles de Gaulle, will be slashed down to 15 minutes.

Most of the taxis are electric, while some run on hydrogen, so they are less polluting than regular cars.

However the model is still too expensive and the operators are working on how to cut costs by increasing the number of seats in each car to six, up from two currently.

“To be profitable, operators will also have to free up the pilot's seat,” Dupuis said, “even if that means steering the machine from the ground before switching to a fully autonomous vehicle.”

In other words, passengers will be sticking to regular taxis or the RER for the foreseeable future.

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