Two questioned over Pakistan plane given RAF escort

The plane was diverted to Stansted Airport, Essex. Picture: PA
The plane was diverted to Stansted Airport, Essex. Picture: PA
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TWO men were being questioned last night on suspicion of endangering an aircraft after an RAF Typhoon jet was scrambled to escort a passenger plane over the UK.

The plane, which was travelling from Pakistan to Manchester on Friday, was diverted to Stansted Airport, Essex.

Police boarded the Pakistan International Airlines flight PK709 and detained two men, who were British nationals aged 30 and 41.

According to one of the passengers, the aircraft’s cabin crew said two men had repeatedly tried to get into the cockpit.

Umari Nauman said: “The cabin crew informed us that basically they tried to come into the cockpit a few times and because they had been asked not to do that they got into a bit of an argument with the crew and made a few threats.”

She said all the passengers were ordered to leave their possessions on board before leaving the plane.

It is believed a passenger on the flight allegedly threatened to blow up the plane after other passengers tried to intervene in a row he was embroiled in.

Murtaza Ali Shah, a journalist, said he had spoken to a friend on board the plane, Fakhir Iqbal, a political activist, who was sitting behind the man who made the threat.

Shah said his friend told him: “Two guys started a row with a girl and lots of other people.

“Some people tried to calm them and asked them not to be rowdy and abusive.

“Fakhir told them to calm down.

“They said, ‘Don’t bloody speak to us or we will blow up the plane’.

“The crew came and spoke to them and they were openly threatening the staff.

“Fakhir went to other crew members and told them they were making threats.”

The RAF jet was scrambled following around ten minutes before the plane, which departed from Lahore, was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.

Superintendent Darrin Tomkins of Essex Police said officers were notified at 1:20pm on Friday of threats made to the safety of passengers aboard the Boeing 777.

Armed officers entered the plane shortly after it touched down at 2:15pm and arrested the two men. The remaining passengers disembarked the plane under police escort.

Tomkins said that no “suspicious items” were recovered, and that officers were carrying out an examination.