Bomb threat that diverted Ryanair jetliner reportedly a hoax

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Picture of the internationsl terminal at Glasgow Pretwick International Airpoort.

According to the UK Department of Transport, Ryanair flight 25, carrying 172 passengers and crew en-route from Paris to Dublin, was diverted to Prestwick International Airport in Glasgow, Scotland following a bomb threat discovered by the plane's cabin crew. The threat, a written note, was found in a magazine on the plane. The UK's Times Online and Reuters are now reporting that the threat was a hoax.

"This obviously had the potential to be a major incident and one which was taken extremely seriously by the security forces and indeed the police. I am extremely glad it appears to have been nothing more than a hoax, but I am disappointed about the inconvenience passengers have suffered. I’m very glad that the response has been entirely appropriate and that at the end of the day no harm has been done," said MSP John Scott, whose Ayr constituency covers the airport.

Reuters also reports that police have not found a bomb on the plane, though passengers were still being questioned.

The Ryanair jet liner, a Boeing 737, was diverted, and escorted while landing by two Royal Air Force Tornados.

"At approximately 13.45 today a Tornado F3 from RAF Leuchars was diverted from a routine training flight in order to assist a Ryanair flight from Paris to Dublin. Two additional Tornados were also scrambled from RAF Coningsby. The plane has now safely landed at Prestwick Airport and the three jets have now landed back at base. The incident is now a matter for Strathclyde Police," said a spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence.

"There is an ongoing incident at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Police and emergency services are in attendance," said a spokesman for the airport.

"A note was passed to the cabin crew onboard claiming that there was a bomb. The captain immediately reported this to UK air traffic control and was instructed to divert to Glasgow Prestwick Airport. said a spokesman for Ryanair.

The scare caused the airport to close for two hours, according to police; a security alert remains in place.

All 172 passengers were evacuated from the plane. Authorities are still searching luggage and passengers, but there is no word on whether or not explosives have been found or if there have been any arrests. Three other flights were not allowed to leave the airport and four arriving flights were diverted to Stansted and Edinburgh Airports in Scotland. Most of the passengers are reported to be in their twenties. Reports also note that at least 71 schoolchildren were on the plane.

They were "quite distressed," said Strathclyde Police Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson. "As soon as they landed they were fine. There’s appropriate support from the health services for them." He also said "people are still being interviewed" and that he thinks "we will know for sure what’s happened once everybody has been interviewed."

"All [passengers and crew] are safe and well and are being interviewed by Strathclyde Police," said a spokesman for the Strathclyde Police.

"All passengers together with Ryanair are co-operating fully with the police and local safety authorities. The aircraft will now be subject to a detailed search, following which we expect it will be cleared to travel onwards to Dublin. Ryanair apologises sincerely for any inconvenience caused to these passengers, however the safety of our passengers and aircraft will always be our number one priority," added the Ryanair spokesman.