Even as Britain is enveloped in a suffocating security blanket ahead of the London Games, an 11-year-old boy was able to board a plane at Manchester airport without a ticket, boarding pass or passport and travel all the way to Rome undetected.
Liam Corcoran’s incredible adventure ended when passengers alerted the crew that a young child was travelling alone. When the plane landed at Rome Fiumicino Airport, he was put on a return flight to Manchester and reunited with his family.
The incident, which happened on Tuesday, sent shockwaves through the security establishment prompting a review of security at Manchester airport.
A number of Jet2.com airline staff have been suspended pending a high-level investigation.
“We have launched a full investigation into what is a serious incident, and the staff involved have been suspended pending the outcome. The boy has been returned safely to his family,” said an airline spokesman.
Secretary Justine Greene described it as “incredibly concerning’’.
“I treat security breaches very, very seriously indeed, so we are now reviewing urgently with Manchester Airport, and indeed the airline, exactly what happened,” she said.
Police said the boy, thought to be obsessed with planes, ran away from his mother while shopping at Manchester's Wythenshawe Civic Centre.
According to Manchester Evening News, Liam then followed a family at Terminal 1 which was packed with people heading for the summer holidays. The security staff scanned him but failed to realise he was on his own and had no boarding card.
“Liam then headed to one of the gates where passengers were boarding Jet2.com flight LS791 to Rome. He managed to bypass a security check at the gate without being asked to show either a passport or a boarding card. Once on the Boeing aircraft, no-one realised he didn’t have a boarding-card stub. It is believed Liam then took up one of the seats but crew failed to carry out an accurate headcount to ensure the number of passengers and boarding cards tallied,’’ the paper said.
A Manchester airport spokesman said Liam was able to evade five separate security checks.