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Zurich Airport: Man took advantage of security deficiencies

A 28-year-old Albanian exploited safety deficiencies in August and entered the runway without authorization. Those responsible at Zurich Airport have now taken measures.

An unusual incident occurred at Zurich Airport in the summer: an Albanian entered the runway without authorisation.

Ennio Leanza / Keystone

On August 24, a 28-year-old Albanian broke into the airport premises at Zurich Airport, stole a car, drove it from Terminal A to Terminal E across the runway and broke into the cargo holds of two waiting Swiss aircraft.

According to a final penalty order from the public prosecutor’s office in Winterthur/Unterland, the man allegedly wanted to fly to Barcelona free of charge in a hold.

According to the penalty order, the man registered in Albania, who was not resident in Switzerland, entered Switzerland illegally from France around noon on the same day. The single mechanic was not in possession of a valid passport and tourist visa, as would be required for Albanian nationals.

Sometime after 9 p.m. he gained access to the fenced and guarded airport area in an unknown manner. The penalty order says: “probably by willfully climbing over the fence”.

Enter the cargo hold of two Swiss aircraft

At Terminal A he stole a Smart from the airline Swiss. He drove over the tarmac to Terminal E, where he left the car at stand E36. According to the penalty order, he successively boarded the cargo holds of two waiting long-haul aircraft, namely LX282 to Johannesburg and LX92 to São Paulo.

According to earlier media reports, the man had put on a luminous vest from the Swiss car. He was finally found by an employee of the Swissport handling company in the hold of the plane bound for Brazil. The clerk called the airport police and the man was arrested at 10:47 p.m.

As can be seen from the decision, he was detained for two days. The Albanian was later examined by a doctor. It is not known whether he was mentally ill. Media had reported that the man was said to have been “confused”. According to the penalty order, he had entered the parked long-haul aircraft “with the unsuccessful intention of flying to Barcelona for free”. The accused did not appeal the decision. The penalty order is final.

Delays of up to two hours in flight operations

The two planes then had to undergo a safety check, resulting in delays of an hour and a half to Johannesburg and two hours to São Paulo. The accused accepted these delays with his behavior, according to the penalty order. Information on the further fate of the Albanian is not available.

For reasons of privacy protection, the authorities also do not provide any information about his mental state. A copy of the penalty order went to the migration office. An investigation into possible safety deficiencies was launched at Zurich Airport after the incident. According to the airport, these investigations have now been completed. Insights were gained from this, but due to security considerations, nothing can be said about the measures taken, it said on request.

The 28-year-old Albanian was found guilty of a total of five different criminal offenses in the penalty order: illegal entry, illegal residence in Switzerland, trespassing, unlawful appropriation (of the Smart) and disruption of businesses that serve the general public.

He was sentenced to a conditional fine of 120 daily rates of CHF 30 (CHF 3,600). The probationary period was granted for a period of two years. Two daily rates have accrued through imprisonment. In addition, the convicted person must bear the costs of the procedure of 800 francs.

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