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UK fighter jet escorts Qatar plane to Manchester airport

PTI August 05, 2014 20:41 IST
London: A British fighter jet was today scrambled to escort a Qatar Airways plane carrying 282 people to Manchester airport after reports of a possible device on the aircraft emerged, as police arrested a passenger on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat.  The Qatar Airways plane was escorted in to land by the Royal Air Force (RAF) following information received by the pilot.

“Flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester, an Airbus A330-300, landed safely at Manchester Airport ahead of its scheduled arrival time of 13:15. There were 269 passengers and 13 Qatar Airways crew on board,” Qatar Airways said in a statement.  

“The crew had received a threat about a possible device on board and Qatar Airways immediately took all the necessary precautions to alert British authorities,” the airline said.  “The crew is now fully assisting police at the airport with their inquiries. The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is our top priority. As this is a matter of a police investigation, we cannot comment further at this time,” it said.

A man on the Doha to Manchester plane was arrested on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat.  Greater Manchester Police earlier said officers were treating it as a “full emergency” as they did not know “how genuine this threat is”.

“It's now business as usual (at Manchester Airport) due to swift partnership response. Police are still dealing with the matter as an isolated incident,” the police statement said.

The airliner was escorted by a Typhoon from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

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. As a result 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.”