Ryanair flight to Dublin diverted in bomb alert


A Ryanair flight from Paris to Dublin was diverted to Prestwick airport in Scotland yesterday after a bomb alert.

Flight FR25 from Paris Beauvais was diverted after a note was passed to the cabin crew in a magazine, claiming there was a bomb on board.

As the flight was in British airspace, the captain reported the warning to UK air traffic controllers, who ordered him to reroute to Prestwick, about 30km (19mls) from Glasgow.

A spokeswoman for the British Ministry of Defence told The Irish Times that two Royal Air Force fighter jets from the Coningsby base in Lincolnshire were scrambled at about 1.45pm to escort the Boeing 737 to Prestwick. A third Tornado jet from RAF Leuchars in Fife which was on a training exercise at the time was also deployed to assist.

Strathclyde police said the plane landed at Prestwick airport at about 2.20pm. "A full emergency service response was put into immediate action at the airport which was closed as a precaution," a spokeswoman said.

The airport was sealed off until 4.30pm and an air exclusion zone of several miles was set up. Some nearby roads were also closed.

John Rodwell, chief executive of Prestwick airport, said four inbound flights had to be diverted during the two-hour closure of the runways. They were sent to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stansted. Three passenger flights due to leave were also delayed.

A police spokeswoman said the bomb threat "was conveyed via a magazine that was passed by a passenger to the pilot". All 172 passengers - including 71 children - and six crew were brought to the airport terminal under police escort. Mr Rodwell said some of the children were quite distressed immediately after the incident, but as soon as they landed they were fine.

He said they were offered appropriate support from the health services.

An extensive search of the aircraft and its luggage was carried out by a specialist team from the British military bomb disposal unit, assisted by police and fire crews, but no device was found. Passengers were interviewed for several hours by police.

The aircraft was released back to Ryanair shortly after 7pm. The airline said last night that it had arranged for a standby crew at Prestwick to bring the aircraft and passengers to Dublin when police authorised the departure.

In a statement, Ryanair apologised "for any inconvenience caused to these passengers; however the safety of our passengers and aircraft will always be our number one priority".

The Department of Transport said it was monitoring events, but would not be carrying out its own investigation.