LONDON — The Royal Air Force escorted a Ryanair plane to Stansted Airport, north of London, on Wednesday after the flight from Lithuania was diverted because of a security threat that the airline later said was most likely a hoax.
The flight, which originated in Kaunas, Lithuania, landed safely around 8:55 a.m., the police said, and passengers were escorted off the aircraft. Ryanair said a “suspected hoax security alert” had been flagged by the Lithuanian authorities.
It was not immediately clear why the jet had required a military escort. Loud noises were reported in the Suffolk area of England, but the police said the sounds had come from a military plane.
The Royal Air Force confirmed in a statement that it had ordered Typhoon aircraft to intercept a civilian plane, and that the noise had almost certainly come from one of its jets traveling at supersonic speed. The statement said that planes were authorized to fly at such a high speed “for operational reasons,” and added that “any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted.”
Stansted Airport, which mostly serves low-cost carriers, has been the designated facility since the 1970s for receiving flights after security alerts, according to a police press officer.
London has been on high alert after terrorist attacks this year. Most recently, in September, 29 people were injured by a bomb on a subway train at the Parsons Green station during the morning rush hour.