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Tallinn Airport: 14 bomb threats in 14 months

A Nordica jet at Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport. March 28, 2016.
A Nordica jet at Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport. March 28, 2016. Source: (Mihkel Maripuu/Postimees/Scanpix)

Since the beginning of 2017 Tallinn Airport has had 14 bomb threats, most of them inappropriate jokes made by passengers at check-in or passing security. Beyond these threats, hardly a day passes without security personnel discovering ammunition, knives, and even air guns.

As the Police and Border Guard's Raavo Järva told "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Thursday, the airport has had an excessive number of bomb threats. Most of them happened at check-in, when people quip that they have a bomb along asked if they are aware of the baggage restrictions.

Any mention or joke about this particular subject to any of the airport's personnel automatically starts a standard procedure, Järva explained. Without exception, these incidents are reported to the police and trigger a standard response that includes the police itself as well as the Rescue Board, ambulances, the local bomb squad, and also the evacuation of at least a certain area of the airport.

No matter where these incidents occur, they usually come with an interruption of flights and airport operations. Chief pilot of Nordica's Bombardier CRJ fleet, Anti Puutsa, told "Aktuaalne kaamera" about a recent incident in Odessa.

The crew of a flight about to depart to Tallinn were told about a bomb threat. "For us as the crew this meant sitting in the cold plane for four hours, for some of our passengers it also meant sitting on the airport bus for three hours. And when they finally got on board it turned out that our schedule didn't allow us to conduct the next flight, which meant everybody had to spend the night in Odessa," Puutsa said.

Any threat, no matter how minor and how supposedly funny, has a snowball effect that eventually costs a lot of money as well, also if a threat is made on board a plane while it is in the air.

"In the worst case this means emergency procedures, which generally call for a landing at the closest airport, which doesn't need to be the flight's destination," Puutsa explained. To the passengers this meant plenty of inconvenience, and of course missing connecting flights as well. "There have been cases where these comedians ended up paying for it all themselves following court cases."

Other things, like pulling out an air gun during a flight, can also trigger a proper panic. Here Puutsa mentions a particular type of personality, for example hunters who insist that they have a permit for their weapon, but of course aren't allowed to bring along these items anyway.

Ammunition of various types was confiscated some 80 times in 2017. Generally illegal items are confiscated as well, e.g. switchblade knives, brass knuckles, tasers. All of these trigger legal procedures on the part of the police.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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