Cabin crew miss Rome flight schoolboy Liam Corcoran after headcount scrapped
CABIN crew missed lone schoolboy Liam Corcoran on a flight to Rome because their airline had scrapped the pre-takeoff headcount, it emerged today.
Liam, 11, flew alone to the Italian capital after he boarded a Jet2.com flight at Manchester Airport without a passport, boarding pass or cash.
A major inquiry has been launched into the incident with investigators seeking to find out how Liam managed to take a seat on the plane without being spotted.
But managing director of Jet2.com Ian Doubtfire said his airline had stopped requiring cabin crew to do a headcount of passengers filing onto planes before take-off.
The procedure is not compulsory under aviation rules but the majority of airlines carry out the measure as part of the pre-flight routine.
Mr Doubtfire said that the headcount would be reintroduced on Jet2.com flights immediately as result of Tuesday's security breach.
He said: "The investigation is still going on and clearly we are very concerned.
"I've got my operations director and my security manager in Manchester taking statements from staff and looking at CCTV.
"I've said to them it's very important to find out exactly what has gone on.
"As an airline we take security extremely seriously so I was very surprised to hear the news. When we heard from the crew, the first thing for everyone was to make sure the boy was safe and brought back safely.
"We don't actually do headcounts on aircraft attached to airbridges - we stopped doing that some time ago, but we have reinstated it with immediate effect after this incident.
"We are also doing a secondary boarding pass check at the gate. We are taking the matter very seriously."
It is understood that five members of staff working for Jet2.com, who should have checked his boarding pass at the departure gates, have been suspended pending the outcome of a top-level investigation.
The workers were interviewed yesterday and CCTV is still being studied of the boy's journey through the airport to determine how he slipped under the radar and evaded four security checks to join the flight unaccompanied.
It is understood that no members of Manchester Airport staff have been disciplined in relation to the incident.
The jet's captain was only alerted to the extra passenger when holidaymakers became concerned as the flight headed to Italy on Tuesday afternoon.
Hours earlier the youngster had run away from his mother Mary and made his way to Manchester Airport three miles away.
It is understood he followed a family when he got to Terminal One.
He was scanned by security staff but he managed to avoid having his documents checked by them, gate staff and cabin crew.
Aviation security expert Chris Yates said: "Clearly a number of security procedures have dramatically failed in this case, not specifically the fault of the airport but the airline itself.
"The boy should have been challenged at the gate and would have been spotted if a headcount had been done - there are some big questions for Jet2.
"I know they were not the only low-cost carrier not to carry out headcounts routinely and I think it is something that the government should now look at.
"The issue may have something to do with the crews not having enough time during the turn around of the aircraft to carry out sufficient checks - that's a particular problem for low-cost carriers."
Transport minister Justine Greening described the incident as 'incredibly concerning'.
Italian website Giornalettismo revealed the boy was treated to sweets, sandwiches and chocolate while waiting to return to Manchester.