Two British Pakistani men have been charged with endangering a passenger aircraft after a Pakistani International Airlines jet was forced to divert to Stansted airport on Friday.
Flight PK 709 was en route to Manchester from Lahore when the pilot sent out a distress signal, prompting Royal Air Force jets to be scrambled and the plane ordered to head out over the North Sea before being escorted to Stansted where armed police officers boarded the Boeing 777.
Taxi driver Tayyab Subhani, 30, and restaurant worker Mohammed Safdar, 41, both from Lancashire, were arrested at the scene and will appear in court on Monday, according to Essex Police.
Unconfirmed reports say the men had threatened the crew of flight PK 709 with a “weapon or a bomb” while some passengers said the duo had openly threatened crew members.
One man told the BBC: “We were about half-an-hour away from landing in Manchester and we saw that the plane was taking different actions.
“We did not know anything about it other than the pilots announced that they have landed at Stansted. And we landed, safely. Then he announced that he had a threat from someone, which was why he had landed the plane.”
Another passenger, Umari Nauman, told Sky News cabin crew had said two men had repeatedly tried to get into the cockpit.
“The cabin crew informed us that basically they tried to come into the cockpit a few times and because they had been asked not to do that, they got into a bit of an argument with the crew and made a few threats.”
According to PIA, there had been 308 passengers on board as well as 14 crew, with a mixture of Pakistani and British passport holders.