Man held after ‘bomb hoax’ on Manchester flight

POLICE have taken a passenger from a plane which landed at Manchester Airport with an RAF Typhoon escort following fears that a device was on board.

The Qatar Airways flight pictured being escorted into Manchester Airport by the RAF Typhoon. Picture: PA
The Qatar Airways flight pictured being escorted into Manchester Airport by the RAF Typhoon. Picture: PA

The alert began as the jet, a Qatar Airbus A330, was approaching the airport.

After the plane landed safely, Greater Manchester Police said: “A passenger has been taken off the plane by officers at Manchester Airport. We will work to get others off as swiftly and safely as possible.”

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The drama started at around 1.30pm with GMP confirming that the A330 had been escorted into Manchester by the RAF “as a result of information received by the pilot about a possible device on board”. An RAF spokesman said: “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.

The Qatar Airways flight pictured being escorted into Manchester Airport by the RAF Typhoon. Picture: PA

“The aircraft was escorted to Manchester where it landed safely. This incident is now being handled by the civilian authorities.”

Qatar Airways said 269 passengers were on board.

The airline said in a statement: “Qatar Airways 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 1315.

“There were 269 passengers and 13 Qatar Airways crew on board.

“The crew on-board had received a threat about a possible device on board and Qatar Airways immediately took all the necessary precautions to alert British authorities.

“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.”

Aviation experts said that the possible threat led to a no-chances-taken response.

Witness Paul Bell, who was on his way to the airport in a taxi, told Sky News that he saw the Typhoon, from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, meet the passenger plane.

He said: “We heard the fighter jet circling over Stockport and literally 10 minutes later we saw the plane coming in being followed by it.

“We saw the Typhoon coming in, literally flying around the aeroplane.

“It then pinged up on the sat nav that the airport is on lock-down.”