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Thursday 18 January 2018

UK inquiry as 11-year-old flies to Rome on solo 'adventure'

Andrew Hough

A GOVERNMENT inquiry is under way after an 11-year-old schoolboy flew from one of Britain's busiest airports to Europe on his own without a passport, ticket or boarding pass.

Liam Corcoran slipped away from his mother at a shopping centre three miles from Manchester Airport on Tuesday before catching the flight to Rome after a series of blunders by staff.

He passed through several security checkpoints before boarding the Jet2.com plane.

The extra passenger was only detected when holidaymakers raised concerns about the boy during the two-hour flight. The captain radioed Manchester, where police told his mother he was safe and well -- but on his way to Italy.

Crew accompanied him on a return flight to Britain later that day.

A spokesman for the airline said that because the plane was connected directly to the airport by an air bridge, a head count had not been required on board.

"However, head counts have immediately been put in place across each of our flights from all airports, including those where air bridges are in use," he said.

"We are reviewing all of our procedures in light of this incident, and three members of staff involved have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. Passengers can rest assured this is an isolated incident and at no time was there any safety risk."

Security

Several airport workers have also been suspended, and three separate investigations are now being held to establish how Liam was able to evade three security checkpoints.

A Department of Transport spokesman said: "We are reviewing urgently with the airport and relevant airline how this occurred and identifying any actions needed to prevent a repetition."

Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: "This is an unusual and serious breach and we are keen to find out what has gone on."

More than two million people are arriving in Britain ahead of the Olympic Games, which open tomorrow.

Liam was reported missing to police at lunchtime on Tuesday. He is thought to have run away from his mother Mary (29) while at Wythenshawe Civic Centre, about a mile from their home in Newall Green, Wythenshawe, Manchester.

It is unclear whether he walked to the airport or caught a bus.

He is understood to have followed a family when he got to Terminal 1 and security staff scanned him but failed to realise he was on his own, despite having no boarding card.

An airport spokesman said: "He was with a large group of other children, he appeared to be in a family group. The boy went through full security screening, so the safety of passengers was never compromised. This was a young lad on an adventure."

Irish Independent

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