A bomb threat on board an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv prompted France and Switzerland to deploy military jets as escorts. The plane, however, continued on its scheduled journey.
El Al, considered one of the most security-conscious airlines in the world, decided not to opt for an emergency landing en route. Nor was there was any emergency at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport when the Boeing 747 El Al jet touched down, according to media reports.
El Al spokeswoman Dana Hermann explained, however, that the airline had received "an anonymous tip," prompting the extraordinary measures. She declined to give details about what the anonymous threat had entailed.
Herrmann did, however, say when asked whether the airline had deemed the threat credible: "You can understand on your own, if the plane (continued) on its way."
Meanwhile the German news agency DPA reported that the alarm was likely raised by the pilots, citing a Swiss aviation official. A spokesperson of the Israeli foreign ministry said that an initial investigation established that there was no explosives on board the plane.
The Israel Airports Authority confirmed that the Swiss air force had scrambled F-18 aircraft to escort the plane "because of a bomb threat".
Sky Guide, a Swiss government-run air navigation service provider, said the bomb threat was received when the El Al aircraft was flying over French air space. It said that the flight was accompanied by French fighter jets before it crossed into Swiss air space. A Sky Guide spokesman said that military escorts were part of routine measures taken when such incidents were reported.
ss/jm (AP, Reuters, dpa)