British fighter jets divert Heathrow-bound Pakistani plane

Police cars pass a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft that was intercepted and escorted by fighter jets to Stansted airport.
Police cars pass a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft that was intercepted and escorted by fighter jets to Stansted airport.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) – British fighter jets on Tuesday (Feb 7) diverted a Pakistan International Airlines flight which had been bound for London’s Heathrow airport, due to a “disruptive passenger” police said.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) said its quick reaction jets were launched on Tuesday afternoon from an airfield in central England.

“The aircraft was intercepted and safely escorted to Stansted airport,” an RAF spokesman said.

Stansted, north of London, is one of five airports serving the British capital and is the one designated for major security alerts, which are dealt with in a remote part of the airfield.

The local Essex Police said the diversion followed “reports of a disruptive passenger on board” and the incident was not believed to be a hijack situation or terrorism matter.

“The plane is currently at the airport and officers are making enquiries. There is no disruption to the ongoing operation of Stansted Airport,” a spokesman said.

The PK-757 flight had been en route from Lahore to Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, Pakistan International Airlines said.

The diversion followed British authorities receiving a “vague security threat through an anonymous phone call”, airline spokesman Danyal Gilani said.

“Security clearance is underway. All passengers onboard are safe,” he added.

London’s Metropolitan Police said one of the passengers had been due to be arrested on arrival at Heathrow.

“Following the diversion of the aircraft, the man was arrested at Stansted Airport,” a spokesman said.

Police did not say whether it was the same man who prompted the flight to be diverted, nor give detail of the reason for his arrest.