Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca

This week: Pilgrims stranded, a fake pilot, refuelling problems & more

It’s the last week in September and it seems to have been a very busy finish of the month in regards to airport related news. We found pieces from around the globe: Nigerian women stranded in Saudi Arabia, a New York evacuation, refuelling problems in Norway or a fake pilot arrested in Italy among other stories.

Let’s start with those women: On Thursday the AFP reported that more than 1,000 Nigerian women pilgrims remained stranded at a Saudi airport for a fifth straight day after being denied entry into the kingdom because they were not accompanied by men, an airport official confirmed in the article. The women had begun arriving at Jeddah airport (JED) on Sunday. According to the article, last year, nearly three million Muslim pilgrims performed the hajj, which represents one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all Muslims who are able to do so (see featured photo).

Three U.S. airports made news this week. First up was Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) where according to Philly.com a Philadelphia police officer accidentally discharged a revolver found in a flight attendant’s handbag early Sunday morning, police said in the article. The bullet struck the floor and no one was injured.

New York was next when the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) was briefly evacuated after a paperweight sparked a bomb scare. Apparently the object had looked like a grenade.

Then there was  a United Airlines flight to Chicago that returned to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) shortly after takeoff on Wednesday morning, after an altercation broke out between two flight attendants – reported the News Observer. According to another article about the same story, the flight was re-staffed and later continued to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). Oh yes, that’s the goat-seeking airport from last week!

In Europe Norway and Italy caught our attention this week: In Oslo dozens of flights were delayed or canceled on Tuesday at Oslo Airport (OSL) after a malfunction in the pumping system halted all aircraft refueling, as ABC News reported. In the article airport officials said all flights from Oslo after 5 p.m. were affected by the electronic fault before it was repaired some three hours later.

From Italy Reuters reported that a man who posed as an airline pilot and travelled in the cockpit of at least one plane was arrested in Turin Airport (TRN) using forged identity cards and wearing a pilot’s uniform, Italian police said on Saturday. According to the article the 32-year-old, whose real name was not released, allegedly created a fake identity as a Lufthansa pilot named “Andrea Sirlo,” complete with a Facebook page that included fake flight attendant friends.

And finally to some airport gossip as a treat for you all: The Sun (of course!) reported that Rihanna showed Londoners what they’ll be missing today as she flashed her – wait for it – toned tum on her way out of the capital from London Heathrow Airport (LHR). Apparently the singer had jetted into London this week for a shoot with celeb photographer Mario Testino – and spent all day yesterday posing for him in Kentish Town.

That’s all we have for you this week – safe travels!

[Photo from Flickr – Some rights reserved by Al Jazeera English]