RAF fighters intercept Kenya Airways flight over UK due to security concerns

Credit: SAC Sally Raimondo / Wikimedia Commons

On October 12, 2023, a Kenya Airways flight en route from Nairobi to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) was intercepted and diverted to Stansted Airport (STN) due to a potential security threat. 

When the alarm was raised, Kenya Airways’ Boeing 787, designated as KQ100, was flying over the UK. The Royal Air Force (RAF) swiftly dispatched Typhoon fighter jets to intercept the plane “as a precaution”. 

“The civilian aircraft remained in contact with air traffic controllers throughout,” a UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesperson said. 

The plane was skillfully rerouted to STN, a location strategically chosen for such incidents due to its distance (approximately 50 kilometers north) from central London. This ensures that potential threats are kept away from densely populated areas, minimizing risk to the public. 

Upon landing, the aircraft was escorted to a remote parking stand, where it was met by Essex Police and eight fire crews.  

Kenya Airways stated that its headquarters had been notified of a possible security issue aboard the KQ100. According to the airline, the alert was received at around 10:30 (08:30 BST).  

“KQ management in conjunction with the security authorities of the Government of Kenya and the United Kingdom carried out a thorough risk assessment of the threat,” the airline wrote in a statement on X (formerly Twitter). “The crew on board were briefed, and all safety and security precautions were taken to ensure the safety and security of our crew and passengers on board.” 

“This threat has since been established to have low credibility,” it added in a separate statement. 

After conducting a thorough inspection of the plane, Essex Police also confirmed that there was “nothing of concern” aboard. 

“There was suspicion of some of the people on board. But nothing to do with a bomb or anything like that,” llan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways told the BBC. “The precautions that we were taking were because that threat had been raised and so we just wanted to make sure that there was nothing untoward.” 

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