DOHA: A Qatar Airways (QA) plane bound for Manchester was escorted by two British fighter jets yesterday after the pilot reported a possible explosive device on board.
The QA airbus landed at Manchester Airport ahead of its scheduled time, leading to the closure of the airport for 25 minutes, stoking fears of terrorism. One passenger was detained over suspicion of a hoax bomb threat.
“QA can confirm that flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester, an Airbus A330-300, landed safely at Manchester Airport ahead of its scheduled arrival time of 13:15,” QA said in a statement, adding 269 passengers and 13 crew members were on board.
“The crew received a threat about a possible device on board and QA immediately took all necessary precautions to alert British authorities.
“The crew is now fully assisting police at the airport with their inquiries,” QA said, adding “as this is a matter of a police investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”
Greater Manchester Police said on their Twitter feed that they had detained one man. Armed police removed the handcuffed passenger dressed in baggy trousers and a sports shirt from the plane, agencies said.
“We can confirm that Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby in their quick reaction alert role to investigate a civilian aircraft whose pilot had requested assistance,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement. “The aircraft was escorted to Manchester where it landed safely. This incident is being handled by civilian authorities.”