LONDON: Two Pakistani men were arrested at the Stansted Airport by the Essex Police on suspicion of endangerment of a PIA aircraft on Friday after a Royal Air Force Typhoon jet was scrambled to escort the Lahore-to-Manchester flight. – Source: The News – Pakistan
Essex Police officers boarded PK709, which had been bound for Manchester, after it landed at Stansted and removed the men from the plane. The PIA pilot had raised the alarm after two men tried to enter the cockpit, unconfirmed reports said.
The RAF jet was scrambled following an incident around 10 minutes before the plane, which departed from Lahore, was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft which was due to land at Manchester Airport at 1.30pm today has been diverted to our sister airport London Stansted, where the authorities are investigating.
“The plane — a Boeing 777, flight number PK709 — was travelling from Lahore and had 297 passengers on board. Two men, aged 30 and 41, were removed from the aircraft and taken to a police station for questioning,” Essex Police said. It is thought that the incident might have been sparked by a scuffle or a disagreement among passengers.
The plane remained at a spot on the north side of the airport with flights carrying on as normal.According to a PIA source who spoke to The News, the two men had repeatedly tried to get into the cockpit. An airport source said it was thought a fight led to the aircraft being diverted. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “A Typhoon aircraft had been launched to investigate an incident involving a civilian aircraft within the UK airspace.”
He added that the Typhoon was from the RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. The very same plane on the very same flight — from Lahore to Manchester — had been diverted to Stansted on September 7 2011 due to a bomb scare.
A Pakistan high commission spokesman said that the crew of the flight reported to the British authorities about the threats to the safety of the plane made by the two passengers.“The High Commission is keeping the authorities informed back in Pakistan and is also in touch with the PIA office in London. The facts are being ascertained,” said a spokesman.
In Lahore, the PIA issued the following statement: “PIA flight PK 709 for the sector Lahore-Manchester was diverted to Stansted, as a safety measure. The flight PK 709 operated by Boeing 777 aircraft carrying 297 passengers and 11 crew members landed safely at Stansted airport,” the PIA spokesman said here on Friday evening.
The PIA spokesman said that the flight PK 709 in the UK airspace was diverted to the Stansted airport on receiving a threat to the aircraft from two passengers on board the aircraft to a PIA crew member who informed the captain.
The captain of the aircraft immediately contacted the air traffic control, UK, and on the instructions received, the captain landed the aircraft at the Stansted Airport. The two passengers have been taken into custody by the UK authorities and are being questioned.
All passengers, crew and aircraft are safe. The flight will land back at Manchester after security clearance by the UK authorities, the PIA spokesman concluded.