RAF Fighters Escort Jet to Manchester After Device Threat

Aug. 5 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. police are examining a Qatar Airways Ltd. jetliner that was escorted to Manchester airport in northern England by Royal Air Force fighters after its crew received a threat about a possible device on board.

The Airbus Group NV A330 wide-body plane carrying 269 passengers and 13 crew on a flight from Doha landed safely after the pilot took immediate steps to alert British authorities, Qatar Airways said in a statement.

Fighters accompanied the jet in to land at Manchester, Britain’s third-busiest airport, as a result of information received, according to a separate police statement. The hub’s website showed that the plane, operating as Flight QR23, landed five minutes ahead of schedule at 1:10 p.m. local time.

“We don’t know how genuine this threat is but it is absolutely vital we deal with the situation as a full emergency,” Greater Manchester Police Chief Superintendent John O’Hare said in the release. The force later added that a man had been arrested on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat, though the plane is being searched as a precaution.

People should not be alarmed by the presence of officers and other agencies at the airport, O’Hare added.

The RAF said that two Eurofighter warplanes had been scrambled from RAF Coningsby after the A330 pilot requested assistance. Manchester airport was closed briefly following the jetliner’s touchdown before reopening to traffic.

“The crew is now fully assisting police at the airport with their inquiries,” Qatar Airways said.

A Manchester-bound Pakistan International Airlines Corp. jet was last year intercepted and diverted to London Stansted, Britain’s designated counter-terrorism airport. Two men were arrested on suspicion of endangering the aircraft after quarreling with crew.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at klundgren2@bloomberg.net; Deena Kamel Yousef in Dubai at dhussein1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net Christopher Jasper