RAF escort for plane over 'device fears'

Published Tuesday, 05 August 2014
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A plane has been escorted into Manchester Airport by a RAF jet, and a man taken off by police, after the pilot received information about a possible device on board.

The flight in question has since landed on Tuesday afternoon and the situation was dealt with by police and airport staff as a full emergency.

Qatar Airways has said that the crew of the Airbus A33, which was carrying 269 passengers, received a threat about a possible device on board the plane and alerted British authorities immediately.

A passenger was escorted off by armed officers from Greater Manchester Police and arrested on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat.

Flights in and out of the airport were temporarily suspended, but a spokesman has confirmed that it quickly returned "to normal".

One of the flights that landed once the emergency was over was the plane carrying Manchester United back from a pre-season friendly tournament in Florida.

An RAF spokesman said: "We can confirm that Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby in their quick reaction alert role this afternoon to investigate a civilian aircraft whose pilot had requested assistance.

"The aircraft was escorted to Manchester where it landed safely. This incident is now being handled by the civilian authorities."

Greater Manchester Police moved to reassure the public.

Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said: "An incoming plane has been escorted into the airport by the Royal Air Force as a result of information received by the pilot about a possible device on board.

"We don't know how genuine this threat is, but it is absolutely vital we deal with the situation as a full emergency."

Chief Superintendent O'Hare added: "People will see the police and other agencies at the airport and on the airfield. At this time, I would urge them not to be alarmed.

"Our response will be as comprehensive as it is proportionate, with the safety of those on board and in and around the airport our paramount concern."

Police later confirmed that a passenger had been taken off the flight and that they would try to disembark others "as swiftly and as safely as possible".

It comes after security at airports across the UK and Ireland was stepped up following a directive from the US Department of Homeland Security.

US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed that he had ordered enhanced security measures in response to ongoing assessment of the "global threat environment".

© UTV News
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