MANCHESTER England (Reuters) - Britain scrambled two fighter jets on Tuesday to escort a Qatar Airways plane into Manchester airport after the pilot reported a possible explosive device on board. A passenger was later arrested on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat.
The incident, which prompted the authorities to close the northern England airport for 25 minutes, briefly raised fears of a terrorism attack.
Qatar Airways said the Airbus A330-300 plane was flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester with 269 passengers and 13 crew on board.
A Reuters photographer saw armed police remove a handcuffed male passenger dressed in baggy trousers and a sports shirt from the plane.
“We can confirm that Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby in their quick reaction alert role this afternoon to investigate a civilian aircraft whose pilot had requested assistance,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
”The aircraft was escorted to Manchester where it landed safely. This incident is now being handled by the civilian authorities.”
Greater Manchester Police said on their official Twitter feed that they had detained one man in connection with the incident.
“A man who was on board the plane ... has been arrested on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat,” they said.
Britain has a standard response to such incidents which always involves scrambling fighter jets and emergency services.
In May 2013, fighter jets escorted a Pakistan International Airlines passenger plane to Stansted Airport near London where police went on board and arrested two men on suspicion of endangering an aircraft.
Reporting by Paul Sandle, William James, Kylie MacLellan, Sarah Young, Tess Little and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Stephen Addison and Andrew Osborn