In this post 9/11 world where heightened sensitivities exist around planes and terrorist activities, a flippant remark about a bomb can land you in hot water – even if you are saying that you do NOT have a bomb on your person!
This was the lesson learnt last week by a fifty two year old engineer from Ankenesstrand in Norway. Kjell Bjoennes became obstructive when he was asked to remove his belt, when passing through security at Edinburgh airport. Security staff decided to make the request because the belt had a heavy buckle but Mr Bjoennes became abusive, shouting at staff that he had a belt, not a bomb. Having removed his belt to have it put through the metal detector, he was picked out for a random search, adding to his displeasure. He continued to insult security personnel, belittling their job and made further remarks about bombs.
The police were called and Bjoennes apologised. He was arrested, nevertheless, and appeared last week at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where he was fined £650 after pleading guilty to a breach of the peace. The judge, Sheriff John Horsburgh QC, indicated that the father of two had got off lightly. Had he not pleaded guilty early on, the fine would have been £1000. Regard was given to the fact that the Norwegian engineer earns £120,000 a year net of tax, with the judge saying that, in the light of his high earning power, a substantial fine was justified. The court heard that alcohol had played no part in the incident, with Mr Bjoennes being teetotal.
In 2004 a British student found out how seriously so-called jokes about bombs are taken by the American authorities. After she joked about having three bombs in her luggage at Miami airport she was arrested and could have been jailed for 15 years. Instead she was ordered to pay a thousand dollars to a charity for the families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks and to write a letter of apology.
Three hundred holidaymakers were left shaken and scared a few days ago, after the pilot on a Boeing 737-700 was forced to make two aborted landings at Edinburgh airport. The ‘flyglobespan’ plane, on a return journey from Lanzarote, was pulled back twice from landing because the pilot’s visibility was poor and the runway lacked a guiding system. The airport is currently using a secondary strip for night-time landings, whilst the main runway is being resurfaced, and lacks the landing system which most runways use to give lighting and radio guidance to descending aircraft.
After aborting the landing for the second time, the pilot flew the plane to Glasgow airport where it was able to land without a hitch, and buses took passengers back to Edinburgh. However, by the time the plane did manage to land many of its passengers were severely shaken. According to a 61 year old passenger, Rosie Blackley, “As we descended I could see the runway lights, then, all of a sudden, the pilot pulled up. We were practically vertical… five minutes later he went down and then shot back again.” Rosie’s husband Harry said, “We were left a bunch of nervous wrecks. There were a lot of upset people.”
A ‘flyglobespan’ spokeswoman apologised to the travellers for the inconvenience of the aborted landings but added, “Safety is always our primary concern.” A representative for BAA (who operate Edinburgh airport) also apologised, assuring the public that the secondary runway has not been a big problem with few planes flying in to the airport at night. Renovations on the main runway are expected to be finished by November.
It was announced a few days ago that Stagecoach Bus Company has made a pledge to plant 140,000 new trees along one of its bus routes, as a way of offsetting carbon emissions. The scheme proposes to save 21,500 tonnes in Carbon Dioxide emissions given off by Stagecoach buses each year along the Fife-Edinburgh route. Over the next five years the trees (a mixture of conifer, broadleaf and native woodlands) will be planted along various stages of the route, including Edinburgh airport, where they will be seen by the five million passengers who pass through the airport annually. More trees will be planted at the Gyle shopping centre, Edinburgh Park, Riccarton, Granton and Leith, covering a total area of 60 hectares, the amount needed to absorb the carbon emissions produced by the buses until 2013. Speaking about the plans, Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: “This is an extremely exciting initiative, which is setting the standard for greener, smarter bus travel and helping our customers reduce their own carbon footprint.”
The initiative comes after a recent research conducted at the airport revealed that more air pollution had been found around the car parks and approach roads of the airport than around the main airfield itself. The new plans have been welcomed by environmental activists who, in March this year, also welcomed a new carbon friendly car parking service at the airport (for more information about car parking at Edinburgh airport please visit our Airport Parking Shop). The project works to ensure that all emissions given out from secure parking at the airport and transfer buses are offset by investments in environmental projects set up by the World Land Trust.