Airport News

Airport News

A third passenger flight from Birmingham was also the subject of the anonymous threats as America honoured its war dead on Memorial Day but US authorities believe none were credible.

US fighter jets were scrambled to escort an Air France passenger plane into New York city as several anonymous telephone threats were made against civilian aircraft bound for American airports.

The call to Maryland police about the Air France flight from Paris to John F Kennedy airport reportedly warned of a “chemical weapons threat” to the plane. A Saudi Airlines flight from Jeddah also landed at the airport after a similar threat.

A third threat was made against an American Airlines jet flying from Birmingham, England, to JFK while it was still in the air, said airline spokesman Kent Powell.

Authorities initially told the pilot to land and taxi to a remote area away from the terminal but later radioed that the threat was not credible and cleared the plane to go to the terminal, Mr Powell said.

Threats were made against at least six flights landing at airports in the New York area. The Air France and Saudi Airlines planes were subjected to detailed searches, but the others were quickly cleared.

American Airlines was notified that its flight 131 from Birmingham was among the planes mentioned in the threats. But the flight landed without incident at Kennedy airport and passengers were allowed to leave the plane at the terminal after a five-minute delay.

FBI agents have launched an investigation into the series of threats, but officials have said that none were believed to be credible.

All three threats were not initially considered credible and may have been made to coincide with the Memorial Day holiday when the country’s war dead are commemorated.

The two F-15s were dispatched to escort the Air France flight 22 jet after US authorities could not immediately make contact with the pilots over the North Atlantic.

The plane and passengers bags were searched in a remote corner at the airport and were later cleared of any threat. The Saudi flight was also searched in the same part of the JFK complex.

The US has been on guard for threats against inbound passenger planes since Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber”, tried to explode a device on a flight coming in to Detroit.

US law enforcement and aviation officials told ABC News that they responded to multiple, unconfirmed threats to multiple airplanes bound for different airports. An American Airlines plane was also the target of a threat.

While the Air France plane was being searched, President Barack Obama delivered an address at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day.

The call making the threat against the Air France flight was made at 6.45am US on an untraceable line, a senior federal official told the network. The anonymous caller said that four US-bound flights had devices on board.

The military planes followed the plane into US airspace, but they were out of the sight range of passengers and crew. The US-Canadian North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) said later that it escorted the jet as a “precautionary measure”.