The runways at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport were closed and reopened after reports of a hijacking proved untrue shortly after a World War II bomb on site was removed.

Two fighter planes were sent to intercept a Vueling passenger plane with about 180 passengers on board after the plane, which had flown from Malaga in Spain, lost radio contact with air traffic control, prompting fears it had been hijacked.

It landed safely at Schiphol on Wednesday where it was surrounded by security forces on the tarmac until the military police established that the aircraft had not been hijacked.

A few hours earlier, authorities had closed parts of the airport after an unexploded German bomb was discovered buried underground near Terminal C, which handles flights to most major European destinations.

A handful of European flights were cancelled, while several dozen were delayed.

The 500kg explosive, uncovered during construction work, was later removed so it could be disarmed safely, a spokeswoman for the airport said.

Schiphol was a military airport during World War II and was bombed both by the Germans at the start of the conflict, and Allied forces during the fighting.

The airport is Europe's fifth busiest, handling about 45 million passengers in 2010.

It is owned by the Dutch state, the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and French airports operator Aeroports de Paris. 

Source: Reuters