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09 December 2023

UK scrambles fighter jets after Air India 'bomb threat'

Photo: AFP

By Reuters/AFP

Britain on Thursday scrambled fighter jets to escort an Air India passenger flight forced to land at London's Stansted Airport following a "bomb threat", according to security officials and the airline.

"The RAF (Royal Air Force) can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning... to intercept a civilian aircraft," Britain's defence ministry said in a statement.

"The aircraft was safely escorted to Stansted Airport."

The plane, en route from the Indian city of Mumbai to Newark in the United States, made a "precautionary landing" at the airport after a "bomb threat", Air India said in a tweet that was subsequently deleted.

It later said the diversion, initiated at around 9:50am local time (0850 GMT), followed "reports of a security alert".

"The plane (is) currently at the airport," an Air India spokesperson added in a statement, noting all the 327 passengers were being cared for inside a terminal.

Stansted Airport, around 35 miles (56 kilometres) northeast of London, said the Boeing 777 landed there 25 minutes after being diverted with police in attendance.

Photos: AFP

"It is parked on an isolated stand away from the normal airport operations," the airport added in a statement, noting its runway had fully reopened.

Police in the southeastern English county Essex, where Stansted is located, said officers were "making enquiries".

British reports suggested the scrambled fighter jets had caused a sonic boom heard across the impacted area.

"The Typhoon aircraft were authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons," the defence ministry said.

"Any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted."

Air India plane escorted by fighters to land in London after bomb threat

An Air India passenger plane flying to the United States was escorted by British fighter jets to land in London on Thursday after a bomb threat.

Air India said flight AI 191 from Mumbai to Newark had made a precautionary landing at London Stansted Airport "due to bomb threat."

Britain scrambled Typhoon fighters at supersonic speed to intercept the Boeing 777-337 and safely escorted it to Stansted which briefly closed its runway.

The Air India plane was directed to an isolated stand with police in attendance.

"An Air India Boeing 777 diverted into London Stansted Airport at approximately 1015 and landed safely with Essex Police in attendance. It is parked on an isolated stand away from the normal airport operations," the airport said.

"Our runway has now re-opened and is fully operational following a precautionary landing of Air India flight," it said.

British police said officers were making enquiries.

An Air India spokesman was not immediately reachable.