LONDON, United Kingdom — 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 defense 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.
#UPDATE Our runway has now re-opened and is fully operational following a precautionary landing of Air India flight.
We are sorry for any disruption caused by the incident and would like to thank you for your patience.
— London Stansted Airport (@STN_Airport) June 27, 2019
It later said the diversion, initiated at around 9:50 a.m. 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 56 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of London, said the Boeing 777 landed there 25 minutes after being diverted with police in attendance.
“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 inquiries.”
British reports suggested the scrambled fighter jets had caused a sonic boom heard across the impacted area.
“The Typhoon aircraft were authorized to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons,” the defense ministry said.
“Any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted.”