Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

RAF jets divert passenger plane to Stansted amid security alert

A passenger flight was escorted to Stansted by RAF fighter jets in a dramatic diversion after an anonymous phone call sparked a major security alert.

The Pakistan International Airlines plane, on its way from Lahore to Heathrow, was accompanied by Typhoons to the Essex airport on Tuesday afternoon.

An airline spokesman said UK authorities had "received some vague security threat through an anonymous phone call".

Photos posted on Twitter showed several fire engines and a number of ambulances waiting on the ground at Stansted.

Passenger Naz Amin said the flight landed "in the middle of nowhere" and was quickly surrounded by police.

"I realised it was surrounded by police and the police came on the plane about 45 minutes to an hour later and they took a gentleman off the plane," he told LBC Radio.

"He wasn't being disruptive at all, he was just sitting down... there was no-one being disruptive on the plane."

Scotland Yard said a 52-year-old man, due to be arrested on arrival at Heathrow, was detained at Stansted.

He is currently being held at a London police station on suspicion of UK fraud offences, a spokesman added.

It is not believed the man had any involvement in the cause of the diversion.

Essex Police said the incident is "not believed to be a hijack situation or terror matter".

The aircraft was held on the tarmac for more than three hours before continuing its journey to Heathrow.

Stansted is a designated airport for dealing with hijacks and major security alerts.

Such incidents are dealt with in a remote part of the airfield to the north-west of the terminal building.

An RAF Typhoon jet escorted another Pakistan International Airlines plane to Stansted in May 2013 after reports of disruption on the flight from Pakistan to Manchester.

Two men were arrested and went on trial accused of threatening to blow up the plane, but were cleared when the judge ruled they had no case to answer.

Typhoon pilots at RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth are on standby 24 hours a day to defend UK airspace.


From Belfast Telegraph