Police helicopter chase causes chaos at airport

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Hundreds of airline passengers had to be diverted mid-flight over Ireland to allow a police helicopter to chase armed robbers.

Air traffic controllers were forced to clear the flight path into Dublin Airport so airborne Garda officers could pursue two men involved in a shopping centre hold-up in the capital.

All incoming flights were ordered to go into a holding pattern while three passenger planes diverted to Shannon Airport on the west coast to refuel.

They included two Dublin-bound Aer Lingus services, one from London Gatwick, with 146 travellers on board, and a flight from Brussels, which had 137 people on board. A Ryanair flight from Las Palmas also diverted to Shannon.

After refuelling they returned to Dublin, about an hour and a half behind schedule.

Another three Aer Lingus passenger flights – from Heathrow, Paris and Düsseldorf – were forced to remain in the skies for a further 20 minutes before they could safely attempt landing.

A Dublin Airport spokesman said the Garda had requested helicopter priority from air traffic control to allow them to follow the armed raiders.

“Ordinarily this wouldn’t be an issue but it just happened to be in the exact location of the incoming flight path,” he said.