Two medical diversions to Shannon Airport

Two medical diversions to Shannon Airport


British Airways flight 252 about to land at Shannon this morning – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

Two transatlantic passenger jets have made unscheduled landings at Shannon Airport today after their crews declared medical emergencies.

United Airlines flight UA-121 diverted to Shannon after the crew reported they needed to seek medical attention for a passenger. There were 174 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 767-400 jet which was travelling from Barcelona in Spain to Newark, New Jersey in the United States.

The flight was approaching the south coast of Ireland at around 11.45am when the flight crew advised air traffic controllers of their emergency and requested clearance to divert to Shannon.

The pilot also sought permission to descend and dump aviation fuel off the south. This was to ensure that the aircraft touched down within safe landing weight limits.

After spending about 20 minutes jettisoning fuel, the flight diverted to Shannon where it landed safely at 12.44pm. The jet was met on arrival by airport fire and rescue crews who are mobilised as part of procedures when an aircraft dumps fuel before landing.

The aircraft taxied to the terminal where it was met by airport authorities and National Ambulance Service paramedics. A male passenger was removed from the aircraft and after being assessed by paramedics, was transported to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.

Flight UA-121 arriving in Shannon this afternoon – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

Earlier, a British Airways flight travelling from The Bahamas in the Caribbean to Heathrow in London also diverted to seek medical attention for a passenger.

British Airways flight BA-252 was almost six hours into its flight and still had about 90 minutes from London when the crew declared a medical emergency and requested permission to divert to Shannon.

The Boeing 777-200 jet landed safely at 9.50am and was met at the terminal by ambulance paramedics. A passenger was removed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment. The flight continued its journey to London later.

Shannon is the country’s busiest airport for aircraft diversions. It has the longest runway in Ireland at almost 3.2km (10,495ft) and capable of handling all passenger and cargo aircraft types.


Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.