The UK deployed two fighter jets to escort a Ryanair flight from Lithuania after receiving an apparently fake security alert. Witnesses reported hearing a sonic boom before the aircraft landed safely in London.
Authorities redirected the plane, which was originally scheduled to land at London Luton Airport, to Stansted, a nearby airport specially designated to deal with hijackings and similar threats.
After searching the aircraft, however, Essex police said they had "not found anything suspicious" aboard the aircraft and that the incident was "not believed to be a hijack situation or terror matter."
"The plane landed safely around 8:55 a.m. and passengers were safely brought off," the police said.
The incident drew attention on social media, as people on the ground noticed two RAF fighter jets escorting the plane to its destination and reported sonic booms over southeastern England. Twitter user Andy Longhurst shared the photos showing one of the jets behind the Ryanair aircraft.
"The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft," the British military said on Wednesday.
The planes were authorized to travel "at supersonic speed for operational reasons," he added.
The UK authorities deployed the jets in response to a "suspected hoax security alert" which was originally received by Lithuanian officials, the low-cost Ryanair said, without providing details.
While a part of the Stansted airport had been briefly closed, flights are now operating normally, according to the officials.
dj/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)