Israeli air forces intercepted an Egyptian passenger plane entering its airspace on Saturday morning and escorted it to land in Tel Aviv, a spokesman from Egypt’s aviation ministry said.
The Air Sinai Boeing 737 aircraft was travelling from Cairo to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.
The flight flew through Cypriot airspace but the Cypriot authorities were slow to provide necessary information to Israel.
“Given that the Cypriot air traffic control was late in sending Israeli airspace with the plane’s information, an Israeli Air Force jet intercepted the plane, considering it an unidentified target,” ministry spokesman Ihab Raslan said in a statement sent to Ahram Online.
The aircraft was eventually allowed to land at Ben Gurion airport as planned after the Israel fighter plane “identified it and made sure it was a civil plane,” the spokesman added in another statement.
The interception took place at 5:40am on Saturday and the plane returned to Cairo about three hours later.
Israeli news websites said the scrambling of the Israeli fighter planes took place after the pilots failed to identify themselves on the air-to-ground communication system.
The cause of the identification delay was not immediately clear but the Ynet news website said it was “apparently due to a technical fault” in the pilot’s radio system.
Last month, an Egyptian domestic flight was hijacked and diverted to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The Egyptian hijacker who was described as “psychologically unstable” is currently in custody in Cyprus pending the extradition process.
source: Ahram Online