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Trump disrupts hundreds of Ryanair passengers after exit from Nato summit

Simon Calder
Waiting game: the flightpath of a Ryanair jet from Limoges to Stansted, which ended up in Birmingham: FlightRadar24

Donald Trump disrupted the travel plans of thousands of airline passengers after he left the Nato summit on Wednesday evening.

More than 500 Ryanair travellers landed at the wrong airports while Air Force One was preparing to leave Stansted. For reasons that are not clear, the departure was delayed.

The president’s Boeing 747 was parked at the Essex airport. It is used for Air Force One because Heathrow and Gatwick are simply too busy with normal scheduled traffic.

When the presidential jet is moving, other traffic has to keep clear. No arrivals took place for over one hour, between 4.36pm and 5.45pm.

Ryanair’s departures from Limoges in France, Lodz in Poland and Lisbon were planning to touch down after Air Force One was expected to depart.

But as the Boeing 737s from Limoges and Lodz approached the London area, they were placed in holding patterns over Hertfordshire and Suffolk respectively. With no certainty about when they would be clear to land, they diverted.

The flight from Limoges landed at Birmingham airport, while the plane from Lodz touched down at East Midlands. Both airports are 93 miles away from Stansted.

Shortly afterwards, the captain of the Ryanair flight from Lisbon opted to divert straight to East Midlands rather than enter a holding pattern of indeterminate duration.

The planes remained on the ground to refuel, then flew in under half-an-hour to Stansted – by which time they were around two hours late.

Many other flights to and from Stansted were delayed.

An easyJet flight from Glasgow made several circuits before being cleared to land, arriving over half-an-hour late. Another easyJet plane in Amsterdam remained on the ground for an hour at the Dutch airport in order to keep clear of Air Force One.

Departures were delayed by up to an hour, with knock-on delays later in the evening.

A spokesperson for Stansted airport said: "We worked closely with Essex Police and the US Secret Service in advance to develop a well-rehearsed plan for the arrival and departure of POTUS.

"However, the additional delay to the departure did unfortunately affect our schedule as we were going into the evening peak period.

"As always, we will work with all the relevant parties involved to review the process for accommodating Air Force One to ensure we minimise any disruption to our passengers in the future."

The Essex airport hosted 10 of the heads of state attending the NATO summit.

The Independent has asked Ryanair for a response.

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