Dutch scramble F-16s after airline passenger scare involving aggressive 29-year-old American

The scuffle broke out over Germany, about half and hour before the KLM flight was to land at Schiphol airport near Amsterdam. PHOTO: REUTERS

THE HAGUE (AFP) - The Dutch air force scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to escort a flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam after an onboard fight broke out with an aggressive American passenger, authorities said on Saturday (Oct 6).

The scuffle broke out over Germany, about half-an-hour before the KLM Airbus A330-200 jet was to land at Schiphol airport early on Saturday.

"A 29-year-old American man became aggressive after being asked by a purser to return to his seat," said Ms Joanna Helmonds, a spokesman for the gendarmerie, which also serves as the country's border police.

"A scuffle broke out and the cabin crew, together with other passengers managed to restrain the man," she told AFP.

A number of passengers were lightly wounded including two passengers who were given black eyes, said Ms Helmonds.

The Airbus was then given special clearance to land immediately at Schiphol airport with police arresting the man shortly afterwards.

Ms Helmonds said the man was examined at the airport and officers determined that he came across as disorientated.

The man has been admitted to a psychiatric institution for observation, she said.

A spokesman for KLM told AFP the airline "regretted the unpleasant incident", but that cabin crew followed the normal procedures when dealing with an unruly passenger.

"Passengers and crew have laid a complaint against the man," Ms Heleen Makkinga said.

Although on high alert, Dutch fighter jets - which are armed with air-to-air missiles - are only scrambled in highly unusual cases, the Dutch air force said on Saturday.

The Airbus A330-200 has a capacity of around 250 passengers and has a range of almost 13,500km. It was not known how many passengers were on the flight from Abu Dhabi.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.