A passenger slipping by at least five layers of airport security with no ticket or identification is the stuff that airport managers' nightmares are made of, and Manchester's is waking up to an awful week ahead
Liam Corcoran, the boy who became a stowaway on a plane to Rome, has said no officials asked to see his travel documents as he boarded a budget airline flight.
The 11-year-old boy sparked a security alert after managing to fly from Manchester to Rome on his own without a passport, ticket or boarding pass.
The schoolboy passed through security without being checked, before boarding the Jet2.com flight yesterday.
Liam had travelled less than three miles from a nearby shopping centre, before evading five security checks to successfully board flight LS791 to the Italian capital.
The captain was only alerted to the extra passenger when holidaymakers raised concerns during the flight.
Speaking yesterday, Liam said: “Getting on the plane was easier than doing my homework. I didn’t have anything on me and no one asked me for anything. They smiled at me when I went through.”
He said he had just been looking for a lavatory and kept searching until he ended up on the plane.
The 11 year-old told The Sun: “I went to the toilet and sat there but I couldn’t get out. Then ‘whoosh’, we were going up in the sky.”
His mother Mary said she thought her son had been abducted when he slipped away from her in a shop near the airport.
Police phoned her more than four hours after he disappeared to tell her “we have found your son, he’s in Rome”, she said.
“I can’t get my head around it,” she added. “How did he get that far without anyone asking him one question? I just keep thinking how easy it would be for a terrorist, it’s unbelievable.
“All I read about is how airport security is the highest it has ever been. I’m disgusted and I want answers.”
Liam’s father, Aaron Fort, 34, said his son had “been a bit petrified by the enormity of it all”.
“If he had got off the plane as easy as he got on Lord knows what would have happened to him wandering round Rome airport,” he said.
He said his son had been swimming earlier in the day and got into difficulties, which had caused him to panic.
He said: “He wears armbands as he is not the best swimmer and I think he got into diffculties and the lifeguard had to throw him a rope to get him out.
“That sort of incident would have worried him-he is that sort of lad.He would have panicked.
“He must have got changed and given his mother the slip and then walked from the baths in Wythenshawe to the airport.
“It would have taken him about 30 minutes to walk it.
“Once there he seems to have mixed with some other children and followed them on the plane.
“I thought people should be counted on an off but that must not have been the case.’
“He has never had a Passport, never been to Rome and never been abroad.
“When we all lived in Blackpool we would go down to the front and ride on a tram-that’s about it.
“As far I know he has no great love for planes. He would rather kick a ball about.”
Liam’s 1,500 mile “adventure” ended on Tuesday night when he returned to Britain unharmed and was reunited with his family.
At least three separate investigations were underway while several staff have been suspended over the security breach.
The incident comes as more than two million people arrive in Britain ahead of the Olympic Games, which open in London on Friday.
“I take any breach of security, very, very seriously,” Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, told the BBC.
“So we are now investigating with Manchester Airport and, indeed the airline, to find out exactly what happened.
“This is an unusual and serious breach and we are keen to find out what has gone on.”
A Manchester Airport spokesman described it as an “extremely serious matter”.
“It is clear that documentation has not been checked correctly at security and the boarding gate,” he added.
“The boy went through full security screening so the safety of passengers and the aircraft was never compromised. It was our responsibility – we absolutely have to answer for that.
“This was a young lad on an adventure.”
The drama began at lunchtime yesterday when Liam was reported to Greater Manchester Police as missing.
It appeared he had run away from his 28-year-old mother, Mary, while she was shopping at Wythenshawe Civic Centre, located just over a mile from their home.
It remains unclear how he travelled to the airport, located about two and half miles away, but when he arrived he passed through security in Terminal 1 without any problems.
It was understood that Liam had followed a family when he got to the packed terminal and that security staff scanned him but failed to realise he was on his own and had no boarding card.
He then went to one of the gates where passengers were boarding Jet2.com flight and managed to get past a security check without showing a passport or boarding card.
The airport spokesman said: “He was with a large group of other children, he appeared to be in a family group – for whatever reason he wasn’t checked.”
It was believed that after he boarded and took a seat, crew failed to carry out an accurate headcount to make sure that the number of passengers and boarding cards matched up.
During the flight, passengers became suspicious and alerted cabin crew.
The captain was informed and radioed back to Manchester, where police informed the boy’s mother, he was safe and well but on a plane heading to Italy.
The boy remained on board after landing at Rome Fiumicino Airport, and returned to Manchester on the same plane, where he was met by his mother around 9pm last night.
A number of staff from Manchester Airport and Jet2.com have been suspended. Officials declined to comment further or say how many staff have been suspended.
An airline spokesman said: “On Tuesday, an 11 year old boy cleared security at Manchester Airport, without the necessary paperwork but had been through a full security search.
“The boy then boarded our flight bound for Rome. 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.” She declined to comment further.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “Shortly before 12.40pm on Tuesday… police received a report of a missing 11-year-old boy. The boy was last seen by his mother in a shopping centre in Wythenshawe.
“Officers launched inquiries to trace him, but later became aware that the boy was seen on an aeroplane.
“The boy has now been found safe and well.”
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