RAF Jets Intercept Kenya Airways Flight Diverted to Stansted Airport Amid Potential Security Threat

RAF jets intercept Kenya Airways flight at Stansted Airport

A Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi to Heathrow was dramatically diverted to London Stansted Airport on Thursday just before 3.45 pm due to a “potential security threat” on board. The Kenya Airways Boeing 787, bearing flight number KQ100, had originally been scheduled to land at Heathrow but found itself rerouted to Stansted.

In response to the security situation, two Typhoon jets, later taking over from French jets, were dispatched to intercept and ensure the safety of the aircraft. Essex Police were summoned to the airport, where the Kenya Airways plane landed safely.

Onboard the flight, passengers encountered a heavy police presence, with armed officers both inside and outside the aircraft. One passenger shared her experience on Facebook, explaining that 45 minutes before the scheduled landing at Heathrow, they were informed of the diversion to Stansted. Upon arrival at Stansted, they were met with numerous police cars and officers in black attire, all carrying firearms and conducting identity checks.

Kenya Airways flight diverted to Stansted Airport amid potential security threat
Kenya Airways at Stansted Airport (Image: Sky News)

Pictures circulated on social media showcased the aircraft on the Stansted tarmac, surrounded by emergency response vehicles. Essex County Fire and Rescue confirmed that eight crews were present at the airport during the incident. The airport took precautions by parking the plane at a remote stand away from the terminal.

The Ministry of Defence reported that the RAF jets were launched “as a precaution this afternoon to investigate a civilian aircraft which was approaching the UK.” The aircraft maintained communication with air traffic controllers throughout the ordeal and was ultimately escorted to Stansted Airport, where it landed safely.

Kenya Airways confirmed the news on social media, saying that it received an alert of a potential security threat on board KQ100, a flight from Nairobi to London Heathrow.

“Kenya Airways sincerely regrets the inconvenience to its passengers and crew and would like to thank them for their patience. The airline would also like to thank its crew for their professionalism during this incident.” it said in another statement.

Kenya Airways, in response to the alert of a potential security threat on flight KQ100, worked closely with the government security authorities of Kenya and the United Kingdom. They conducted a thorough risk assessment, briefed the onboard crew, and implemented all necessary safety and security measures to protect both passengers and crew members. The aircraft landed at Stansted Airport for security clearance by UK government security personnel.

Kenya Airways emphasized that the “safety and security of its crew and customers” is its top priority.

Essex Police later confirmed that their investigations found nothing of concern on board the diverted flight. As a result, the incident was officially “stood down,” and the airport resumed its normal operations.

Stansted Airport’s remote location makes it a preferred choice for emergency landings during security incidents, and in this instance, it proved to be a pivotal location in handling the potential security threat effectively.