Bri­tish Air­ways plane held in Paris over 'di­rect se­cu­rity threat'

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Caro­line Davies

A Bri­tish Air­ways plane has been evac­u­ated at Charles de Gaulle air­port in Paris for se­cu­rity rea­sons, af­ter pas­sen­gers were told a “di­rect threat” had been made to­wards the air­craft.

Flight BA303 was due to take off on Sun­day bound for Heathrow in Lon­don when the in­ci­dent oc­curred, with po­lice and fire en­gines sur­round­ing the plane on the tar­mac.

One pas­sen­ger, James An­der­son, 20, said those on­board were in­formed by the pi­lot that an in­di­vid­ual had made a di­rect threat against the air­craft. Peo­ple were led off the plane and in­di­vid­u­ally searched by armed of­fi­cers, with lug­gage in the hold searched by dogs.

Pas­sen­gers had waited on the plane for about an hour, at first be­ing told there were “tech­ni­cal is­sues”. They were then told the air­craft was to move to an­other part of the air­port. The pas­sen­gers then no­ticed po­lice and fire en­gines quickly sur­round the plane, and dozens of armed of­fi­cers and fire­fight­ers got out, An­der­son tweeted.

He told BBC News: “Ev­ery sin­gle per­son and ev­ery sin­gle item of bag­gage was searched. That took around an hour.”

Many ended up miss­ing flight con­nec­tions as a re­sult, he said.

“The pi­lot did a great job in keep­ing us all calm. Ev­ery­body was very calm in get­ting off. The whole process was rel­a­tively fast. And we were kept in the loop the whole time,” An­der­son said.

“It is the sort of thing you see on so­cial me­dia and maybe TV shows, you know, when an air­craft is be­ing swarmed like that. And there were lit­er­ally dozens of th­ese ve­hi­cles and fire ve­hi­cles. And that’s when I re­alised that it was re­ally se­ri­ous. It was def­i­nitely scary.”

Bri­tish Air­ways said: “The safety and se­cu­rity of our cus­tomers and crew is al­ways our top pri­or­ity. Ad­di­tional se­cu­rity checks are be­ing car­ried out as a pre­cau­tion. We would never op­er­ate a flight un­less it is safe

to do so.”

An air­port of­fi­cial said the plane had been evac­u­ated for se­cu­rity rea­sons. “The in­ci­dent is be­ing dealt with,” the of­fi­cial said.

An­der­son later tweeted: “Pi­lot: ‘Air­craft has been deemed ab­so­lutely safe. Author­i­ties are sat­is­fied with the search. We will con­tinue on to Lon­don Heathrow’.”

“Our pi­lot was an ab­so­lute credit to Bri­tish Air­ways. Ex­tremely calm and com­posed, han­dled the sit­u­a­tion won­der­fully.”

A Bri­tish Air­ways spokes­woman con­firmed the flight had taken off at about 11.10am.

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