For the second time within a week, a bomb threat has resulted in a full aircraft search in China. This afternoon, a Hong Kong Airlines flight to Shanghai diverted back to Hong Kong after an hour and a half in the air. Two threats were reported via the Airport Authority website. The threat turned out to be a hoax.
The Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A330 departed from Hong Kong airport at around 13.45 local time. The aircraft was operating flight HX246 from Hong Kong to Shanghai. However, the aircraft had only been in the air for an hour and 20 minutes, traveling up the east coast of China, when it turned west to make a U-turn and returned to Hong Kong. The aircraft landed safely at 16:24 local time.
According to the airline, the aircraft was carrying 56 passengers and crew at the time. Upon landing, passengers were evacuated, and Hong Kong police boarded the plane to search for a bomb. All bags, equipment, and passengers were also searched but nothing unusual was detected. Although the aircraft returned to Hong Kong airport, the airport continued operations as usual.
According to the police investigating the incident, no one was harmed, and the aircraft was searched upon landing, with the threat proving to be fake. The bomb threat was reportedly sent via an email to the Airport Authority website. A second threat was sent via the website’s online chat room.
In a statement, the airline confirmed that they had “reported to the relevant authorities and will cooperate with them on investigations.”
The investigation is still ongoing and if someone is found responsible, they will likely be charged with a crime including jail time as well as a fine.
A second service using the same A330 departed several hours ago and is en route to Shanghai without any issues.
A week of bomb threats
With the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US, several bomb threats have been reported this week. A Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong was evacuated upon arrival in Beijing after a bomb was reported onboard mid-flight. The flight was evacuated via emergency slides as the threat occurred on the anniversary of 9/11 and was taken very seriously by officials.
Unfortunately, bomb threats are actually fairly common, although some don’t result in complete evacuations. Recently a woman on a JetBlue flight called in a bomb hoax in an attempt to delay her flight. Once she realized she would be too late to make her flight from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago, she called in a threat. She has been charged with a crime.
Earlier this year, a false bomb threat was reported on a Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Oslo. Police searched the aircraft just days after another Ryanair flight from Krakow to Dublin was searched for a similar threat.
Luckily, most threats are rarely serious, meaning no one was ever in danger. However, airlines, airports, and law enforcement treat every threat as if it were genuine. Hong Kong police investigating today’s incident will look to press charges if they discover who is behind the threat.
What do you think of today’s incident? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.