NEW YORK – U.S. military jets escorted an Air France airliner to New York’s Kennedy Airport after a threat was made against the flight. As many as five other planes were also checked for possible threats on the ground. Authorities say it all may have been a hoax but mentioned they aren’t taking any chances.
The FBI says the jets scrambled Monday morning after an anonymous caller claimed a chemical weapon was aboard the Air France aircraft.
Authorities say the airliner landed safely and a search turned up no weapons. Passengers told Fox 5’s Arthur Chien that they wanted calmly on the plane for two hours until they were allowed to deboard.
Law enforcement sources tell Fox 5’s Lisa Evers that they were concerned about a possible plot to disrupt and delay air travel in the New York area on the last day of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The Air France jet was taken to the hijack screening area by Port Authority Police Emergency Service after officials received a threat of “possible chemical weapons” on board.
There were 2 other incoming JFK flights that reported the same concerns; one was a Saudi Airlines flight, and the other was an American Airlines flight.
Lisa Evers took a photo of first responders at the hijack screening area at JFK Airport, including Port Authority Police ESU & agents in white hazmat suits at the the Saudi Airlines plane.
The FBI says it believes the same caller made the threats to the two other airliners and they were being screened as a precaution.
Officials caution at this point that it could be a hoax, but even if the claims are false, the necessary security screening procedures will affect hundreds of passengers and cause travel disruptions for thousands of passengers.
The Maryland State Police say an anonymous call threatening commercial aviation was received at a Maryland State Police barrack earlier this morning and the information was immediately forwarded to the FBI and the state’s fusion center.
Shortly after 6:30 a.m. today, an anonymous call was received by a police communications operator at the Maryland State Police McHenry Barrack, in Garrett County. The caller made a bomb threat involving commercial aviation. Officials at the FBI and the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, the state’s fusion center, were immediately notified about the call.
Meanwhile, at least three planes were searched at Newark Liberty International Airport after anonymous telephone threats were made against international flights arriving at several airports. Authorities say none of the threats appear credible.
United Airlines spokeswoman Mary Clark says passengers at Newark were removed from a flight after it arrived from Madrid. The plane was being inspected Monday afternoon at a spot away from the terminal.
The FBI in Newark said two other planes also were searched. One was a United flight from Edinburgh, Scotland, and the other was a Delta flight from London.