Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Virgin Jumbo Forced to Land in Bomb Scare; RAF JETS SCRAMBLED AS PASSENGER PLANE IS DIVERTED TO STANSTED

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Virgin Jumbo Forced to Land in Bomb Scare; RAF JETS SCRAMBLED AS PASSENGER PLANE IS DIVERTED TO STANSTED

Article excerpt

Byline: JUSTIN DAVENPORT

A VIRGIN passenger jet bound for Heathrow made an emergency landing today after a suicide bomb threat.

The alert unfolded as the plane flew over Southend and a full Mayday emergency procedure was put into operation.

One report said a telephone threat was made that a suicide bomber was on board the flight.

Flight number VS201 with 232 passengers and crew on board was diverted to Stansted, Britain's designated emergency and hijack airport, where it landed safely.

The plane - an A340 600 Airbus - was ordered to taxi to a remote part of the airfield where it was surrounded by police vehicles.

Passengers were escorted off the aircraft and scanned and searched individually. Police officers with dogs also went on board and carried out a search of the aircraft.

A spokesman for Stansted said the alert procedure was launched after a "non-specific" threat to the flight from Hong Kong. He said the plane landed safely at 5.23am.

It is understood RAF jets and a helicopter were scrambled to meet the jumbo but because it was able to land quickly at the Essex airport, the military aircraft were stood down.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson confirmed that Flight VS201 was diverted to Stansted as a "precautionary measure".

The spokesperson added: "The aircraft and passengers are now subject to full security checks by the appropriate authorities.

"The flight departed Hong Kong at 2342 local time and following the diversion landed safely at Stansted at 5.23am local time.

"The aircraft was carrying 214 passengers and 18 crew.

"The safety and welfare of our crew and passengers is Virgin Atlantic's top priority and we would like to thank passengers for their patience and we regret any inconvenience caused to them."

The A340 600 is the largest of the Airbus planes with the ability to carry 380 passengers non-stop for nearly 8,000 miles. …

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