One of the Spanish F18s escorting the plane. | Reuters

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The 18-year-old Briton who was arrested by the Guardia Civil after making a false bomb threat on Sunday on the easyJet plane on which he was flying from London to Minorca could be facing a large bill.

He has been charged with an alleged crime of public disorder and will be taken to court. The bomb hoax sparked the mobilisation of two Spanish Air Force fighter jets which had to escort the aircraft to the island and, once on the ground, the Civil Guard mounted a special operation to check, one by one, the luggage of all the passengers on the flight.

If found guilty, the Briton will have to cover the costs of the emergency operation which was mounted.

What was initially going to be a pleasant flight ended on Sunday afternoon with some very concerned and nervous passengers, who, unaware of what was happening, were surprised to see the presence of the F18s based in Zaragoza escorting the easyjet Airbus 319 and sending visual signals to the crew to follow them.

The message that triggered the alert was sent by the passenger via a social network and was detected when the aircraft was in the middle of the flight approaching the island.

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Military planes usually intercept civilian aircraft when ground air traffic control lose contact with them or there is a perceived threat to the aircraft or passengers either because of a bomb warning, suspicious object or feared terrorist activity.

EasyJet flight EZY8303, which left London Gatwick airport at 1 p.m., landed safely at Minorca airport around half an hour late, just before 5 p.m., and was escorted to a security area.

There, the teenager was arrested and over a period of two hours passengers were disembarked one by one and asked to identify their luggage for checks by sniffer dogs and bomb disposal experts, the Civil Guard said.

Other flights out of Minorca were disrupted by the incident.
An Easyjet spokesman confirmed the flight was escorted by a military aircraft and there was a delayed disembarking due to precautionary security checks, but did not give details as to the cause.

“The safety and security of its passengers and crew is always easyJet’s highest priority and we would like to thank passengers for their understanding,“ he said.