Monday, May 27, 2013


UPDATE: Pakistani plane suspects remanded in custody after court appearance. Tayyab Subhani and Mohammed Safdar refused bail over charges of endangering an aircraft, which carries a life sentence. Two men who allegedly threatened to blow up an aeroplane flying with 308 passengers from Lahore to Manchester, were remanded in custody on Sunday.

Taxi driver and supermarket worker Tayyab Subhani, 30, and restaurant worker Mohammed Safdar, 41, appeared at Chelmsford magistrates court charged with endangering an aircraft. The defendants have been charged with making threats that the "crew and passengers would be killed and the aircraft blown up before landing, which was false, misleading or deceptive".

During the hearing, the defendants, who were both born in Burnley, Lancashire, spoke only to confirm their names and addresses but their lawyers said they would deny the charge. Endangering an aircraft carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The magistrate, Sarah-Jane Davies, refused bail. Safdar – a married father of three – and Subhani, both from Nelson, Lancashire, will next appear at Chelmsford crown court on 5 August.

One passenger, Fakhar Iqbal from Dundee, had said the terrifying incident had left people on board worried that something awful might happen. He said: "There were lots of women and children on board and people were very scared. People lifted up their window blinds and saw the jets but there was no public announcement to say what was happening. It was terrifying being up in the air with this going on."

May 26, 2013

UPDATE: British authorities have charged two men with endangering an aircraft. Essex Police said Sunday that 30-year-old taxi driver Tayyab Subhani and 41-year-old restaurant worker Mohammed Safdar will appear in court on Monday. Both men, from Lancashire in northwestern England, remain in custody. A Typhoon fighter jet was scrambled on Friday to divert the Pakistan International Airlines plane traveling from Lahore, Pakistan, to Manchester, and forced it to land at London's Stansted Airport. The Boeing 777 plane landed safely.
May 25, 2013

UPDATE: The two men continue to be questioned on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft. Both suspects are British nationals, aged 30 and 41, Essex Police said. The force confirmed their custody had been extended for 12 hours, from about 16:00 BST.

LATEST: Mashood Takwar, a spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines, said air traffic controllers in Manchester contacted the pilot 25 minutes before the aircraft was due to land, after receiving information from British security services.

It is believed that a passenger allegedly threatened to blow up the aircraft after other passengers tried to intervene in a row he was involved in.

Murtaza Ali Shah, a journalist, said he had spoken to a friend on board the plane, Fakhir Iqbal, a political activist, who was sitting behind the man who made the threat. Mr Shah said his friend told him: "Two guys started a row with a girl and lots of other people. "Some people tried to calm them and asked them not to be rowdy and abusive. "Fakhir told them to calm down.

"They said, 'Don't bloody speak to us or we will blow up the plane".

"The crew came and spoke to them and they were openly threatening the staff. "Fakhir went to other crew members and told them they were making threats."

May 24, 2013

UPDATE: Umari Nauman said: "The cabin crew informed us that basically they tried to come into the cockpit a few times and because they had been asked not to do that they got into a bit of an argument with the crew and made a few threats."

Update: A PIA spokesman said the airline was repeatedly unable to contact the pilot. The arrested men - Kashaf and Zaroon - are aged 30 and 41 and have been taken to a police station for interview by detectives. They tried to enter the cockpit during the flight.

Update: Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, said the two passengers "got into an altercation with air stewardesses and threatened to blow up the plane." The air stewardesses contacted the pilot, who contacted UK air traffic control authorities, who then scrambled the fighter jets, he said.

"So far nothing has been found," he said. "All the passengers are off the aircraft and are being screened, as would be normal, by immigration authorities," he said, and the cargo is also being searched. The process is expected to take about four hours, he said, after which the passengers will fly on to Manchester.

Update: Passenger: "The two men arrested tried to break into the cockpit."

Update: (PIA) spokesman Zufiqar Bijarani: "We have been told there may have been a bomb threat."

Another Pakistan International Airlines spokesman Mashood Tajwar said the airline had been unable to contact the pilot of the Flight P709 despite repeated attempts. He said 297 passengers and 11 crew members were on the diverted plane.

Update:  A threatening phone call was made to the UK's air traffic control.

Update: Pilot or crew on flight PK709 may have sent out a Quick Reaction Alert triggering the interception.

The plane is on the ground and has been isolated in a part of the airport away from passenger planes.

Update: The aircraft was originally heading towards Manchester when it was re-routed and sent back out to the North Sea before travelling to Stansted. Reports say the plane has now landed.

An incident has occurred on an aircraft. Police and partners are responding.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "A Typhoon aircraft has been launched to investigate an incident involving a civilian aircraft within UK airspace." He added that the Typhoon is from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

Pakistan International Airlines said the plane had landed safely at Stansted, but they do not have communications with the pilot.

Update: Two men have been removed from a Pakistan International Airlines flight and arrested on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft after the plane was diverted and was escorted by an RAF Typhoon.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that an RAF Typhoon fighter jet escorted the diverted Pakistan International Airlines flight from Manchester to Stansted Airport. The airline has confirmed the decision was taken for security reasons.

Pakistan International Airlines PK709 was the scheduled 0935 Lahore to Manchester flight. There are thought to be 297 passengers on board. It is understood that the incident happened around 10 minutes before the plane was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.


A UK fighter jet was scrambled to escort a Pakistan International Airlines flight as it was diverted Friday from northwestern England's Manchester Airport to London's Stansted Airport.

The plane was coming from Lahore, Pakistan, a Manchester airport representative said. Early indications show Friday's diversion of the flight to London's Stansted is not a terror-related incident, a security source in London said.

Zulfiqar Bijarani, of Pakistan International Airlines, told CNN the airline did not yet know what caused the diversion. Essex Police, which covers the area near Stansted airport, said the plane has now landed at Stansted Airport.