UK jets scrambled to escort Qatar plane, passenger held

UK jets scrambled to escort Qatar plane, passenger held

A man was arrested today on suspicion of making a mid-air hoax bomb threat that forced a Qatar Airways plane carrying 282 people to make an emergency landing at Manchester Airport with British fighter jets escorting it to safety.

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.

After the plane landed, a man on the Doha to Manchester plane was arrested on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat.

The man was arrested for reportedly passing a letter to a member of the cabin crew claiming there was a bomb on board the plane.

Armed officers escorted him off the plane as soon as it landed in Manchester. He is now being held in custody on suspicion of making the hoax bomb threat.
Passenger Matthew Cox told the BBC: "Armed police came on and found a guy, searched him and made him stand up with his hands on his head and took him off the plane. He seemed no different to others on the plane, nothing unusual."

"We can confirm that Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby in their quick reaction alert role this afternoon 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 now being handled by the civilian authorities," it said.

All flights in and out of the airport were suspended for about 25 minutes.

The incident caused the diversion of the plane carrying the Manchester United football team back from its pre-season tour of the US, the Manchester Evening News reported.
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.

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