It’s not often that countries send fighter jets up to escort an airliner through their airspace – but that happened on Tuesday as a passenger flight from the US crossed Europe.
The carrier involved was El Al, the Israeli airline. One of its B747s, flight LY002 from New York was the subject of a bomb threat, which spurred France and Switzerland to send warplanes aloft to escort the Israeli plane over their territory.
The plane reached its destination, Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport, without incident and landed safely.
El Al is considered one of the most security conscious airlines in the world. The Swiss air force scrambled F-18 aircraft to escort the plane “because of a bomb threat”, the Israel Airports Authority said.
Reuters quoted Sky Guide, a Swiss air navigation service provider, saying the bomb threat was received when the El Al aircraft was over France. French fighter jets escorted the Israeli plane before it crossed into Swiss air space.
An El Al spokeswoman declined to give details but Israel’s longest established newspaper Haaretz was more forthcoming, quoting the Israeli Foreign Ministry saying US aviation authorities had received an “anonymous tip about a bomb inside an airplane kitchenette”.
“The Americans updated Swiss authorities while the plane was in Swiss airspace, and the Swiss scrambled fighter jets to escort the plane,” the ministry said.
“An examination showed the plane was ‘clean’ and it continued its journey as usual,” Haaretz reported.
Written by Peter Needham