UK Royal Air force jets yesterday intercepted a Kenya Airways flight that was diverted to Stansted Airport after a “potential security threat” on board.
The Kenya Airways Boeing 787 was diverted into London Stansted just before 3.45pm. It had been due to land at Heathrow Airport from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
It is understood two Typhoon jets took over the interception from French jets.
Pictures on social media showed an armed officer on board as well as officers outside the plane.
One woman posted on Facebook: “On flight this morning from Nairobi to London Heathrow 45 minutes before we were due to land we were told we [have] been diverted to Stansted[.] [W]hen we arrived in Stansted loads of police cars.
“We’ve been surrounded by all the police. [They have] all got guns all dressed in black and are [IDing] us. Captain hasn’t even said anything.”
Other images showed the plane on the tarmac at Stansted, as well as a number of emergency response vehicles.
A spokesperson for Essex County Fire and Rescue said eight crews were in attendance at the airport.
The airport said the plane was parked at a remote stand away from the terminal.
The Ministry of Defence said the jets were launched “as a precaution this afternoon to investigate a civilian aircraft which was approaching the UK”.
It said the plane “remained in contact with air traffic controllers throughout, and was escorted to Stansted Airport where it landed safely.”
Kenya Airways said its headquarters had “received an alert of a potential security threat on board KQ100 operating from Nairobi to London Heathrow”.
“KQ management in conjunction with the security authorities of the government of Kenya and the United Kingdom carried out a thorough risk assessment of the threat,” it said in a statement.
“The crew onboard were briefed, and all safety and security precautions were taken to ensure the safety and security of our crew and passengers on board.
“The aircraft landed safely at Stansted Airport, London, for security clearance by UK government security personnel.”
A spokesperson for Essex Police later said: “Officers have established there is nothing of concern on board a flight diverted to Stansted Airport.
“Officers carried out enquiries and established there was nothing of concern on board.
“The plane has been handed back to the airport which has remained operational throughout.”
Carrying an unspecified potential security threat was the reason for interception.
The incident was “stood down” and flights went on operating as normal, a spokesperson for the airport said.
Stansted is used for flights involving security threats because of its remote location.