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30 November 2023

Passenger admits to bomb hoax on Etihad flight

Etihad Airways (FILE)


A man on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a bomb hoax on board a flight from the United Arab Emirates to Britain, causing it to divert under a fighter jet escort.

James Glen, 37, made the claims Monday on a flight from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow, on the same day that 35 people were killed in a suicide bombing at Moscow Domodedovo airport.

The Etihad Airways flight, with 163 passengers and 15 crew on board, was diverted to London Stansted. Two Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to escort it down.

Glen appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court, near Stansted, where he was remanded in custody until March 10, when he will likely be sentenced.

Glen, who was "intoxicated", told a flight attendant that a fellow passenger had a gun and had "threatened to blow himself up", prosecutor Vivienne Perry said.

She said the diversion had a "considerable financial cost", including charges incurred from the military escort, additional fuel and the cost to other passengers who missed connecting flights from Heathrow.

"The whole incident caused considerable problems for passengers and members of the air crew," she said.

"When he was interviewed, he admitted he made up the whole story and said he does not know why he did."

Glen, from Ayr in Scotland, had been living in Australia for 18 years and was flying for the first time since emigrating.

Defence lawyer Paul Cammiss said he was therefore anxious about the flight and had acted in a manner "alien to him".