Vienna-London flight halted as passenger raises ISIS alarm

 An EasyJet aircraft on the tarmac of a European airport in February 2016.
An EasyJet aircraft on the tarmac of a European airport in February 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

VIENNA (AFP) - An EasyJet flight from Vienna to London was halted just before takeoff on Saturday because a passenger believed the man sitting next to her might be an Islamic extremist, authorities said.

"The woman believed that she saw messages related to IS (Islamic State) on the man's mobile phone," Austrian interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP.

The woman alerted cabin crew, security staff were called, the takeoff was cancelled and all passengers and all their luggage were taken off the plane for checks.

"Nothing was found, however, and the aircraft has since taken off, but without either the man or the woman. They are now being questioned," Grundboeck said.

The man is an Iraqi citizen, he added.

It was unclear what the woman's nationality is.

The incident comes amid heightened security in Europe following Tuesday's bombings in Brussels, which were claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.