May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Bomb threats that caused China Eastern Airlines Corp. and two other carriers to alter some flight plans today were unfounded, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Police are investigating the matter, Xinhua said, citing the Civil Aviation Authority of China. China Eastern, Shenzhen Airlines Co. and Juneyao Airlines Co. diverted or canceled at least five flights after receiving the threats, according to reports by state-run media and company statements.
Chinese airlines have received a number of bomb hoaxes in the past year, resulting in at least three arrests. The carriers have had to abort flights even as they contend with currency fluctuations and fuel costs amid slower economic growth.
State-controlled China Eastern received a threat by phone against its flight flying from Lanzhou to Xi’an today, Shen Xiaosheng, deputy head of the carrier’s media department, said today. Security checks showed everything about the flight was normal and the police are investigating, he said.
China Eastern fell 2.9 percent to close at HK$2.97 in Hong Kong trading today, the lowest since Dec. 13. The stock has dropped 3.9 percent this year, compared with a 1.7 percent advance for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.
Shenzhen Airlines, a unit of Air China Ltd., received threats against three of its domestic flights. While one aircraft returned to Nanjing, a second flight landed in Guilin city, the carrier said in a statement posted on its official microblog. A third flight was canceled before it took off.
Air China gained 0.3 percent to HK$6.72 after earlier falling 0.9 percent. The stock has advanced 2.6 percent this year.
A Juneyao Airlines flight from Shanghai to Shenzhen also turned back this morning after getting a phone threat, Xinhua reported on its microblog, citing the carrier. Police searched the aircraft that was threatened and found nothing dangerous, the news agency said.
In December, Chinese police detained a man in the central province of Henan on suspicion of making a bomb threat that forced two planes to remain grounded. In September, a man whose bomb hoax caused an emergency landing of a Shenzhen Airlines flight was detained in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
A Chinese man was sentenced to one year and two months in prison in July after calling Shanghai Pudong International Airport claiming that he had planted a bomb on an Air China flight and demanding 1 million yuan ($162,700) be remitted to his bank account, according to Xinhua.
Chinese authorities have boosted security measures at airports, such as limiting how much liquid passengers can carry onto flights, after past attempts to hijack planes.
In June, Chinese police arrested six suspects for trying to hijack an airplane in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. The suspects were overpowered by the crew and passengers upon attempting to hijack a Tianjin Airlines plane 10 minutes after the flight took off from Hotan Airport. At least 10 of the 100 people on board were injured.
Chinese carriers have expanded their fleet and added more routes as the nation’s economic growth spurs air travel demand in the world’s most populous nation. Airlines in China will need 5,260 new planes worth $670 billion through 2031, Boeing Co. forecast in September.
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