The Learjet, the Ambassador, the flight diversion, the Covid-19 test chaos, and an Air Corps crew confined to base

An Air Corps crew were ordered not to leave an airbase in Abu Dhabi because of a Covid-19 testing fiasco as part of the evacuation mission for Irish citizens fleeing Afghanistan.

The government Learjet had been dispatched to the UAE to support the evacuation but was diverted at the last moment to a military airbase where the crew were told they were confined to an area with no sleeping facilities and only couches.

The last-minute hitch in late August caused chaos in the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs with diplomatic staff saying they were reluctant to intervene with the UAE government.

It also caused havoc with flight plans because of concerns the Air Corps crew would not have the required rest periods before flying the aircraft back to Ireland.

Internal files from the Department of Defence detail how the plane was first diverted to a military airbase with “no reason” provided.