Planes circle isle after controller overslept

ATHENS Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:54pm EDT

The control tower of the Antonio Carlos Jobim International airport is seen in Rio de Janeiro March 31, 2007. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos

The control tower of the Antonio Carlos Jobim International airport is seen in Rio de Janeiro March 31, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Bruno Domingos

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Two airplanes due to land on the Greek island of Lesbos had to circle above the Aegean sea for more than half an hour because an air traffic controller overslept, police said Monday.

An Olympic Airlines aircraft, arriving from the Greek capital Athens, and a Slovakian Airlines plane made several failed attempts to contact control tower personnel.

"They were calling the tower to get directions, but no one would answer," a police official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. "The woman later said she overslept."

The airport's secondary control service assisted the pilots to land after they had circled for 40 minutes. Police said the controller, who was not named, would be suspended for a few days.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Daniel Flynn)

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