Air France Flight 22 has landed at John F. Kennedy airport in New York after being accompanied overseas by U.S. fighter jets. A phoned-in “chemical weapons” threat has emergency personnel on edge, and the flight is currently being searched for explosives in the “hijack site” of the airport, assigned to planes suspected of carrying a weapon.
ABC News first reported this morning that a “senior U.S. official” told an ABC reporter that France had requested assistance with the flight, which left Paris earlier this morning, and that the U.S. had “scrambled” to bring together fighter jets to fly alongside the plane. An anonymous person phoned Air France and warned of a “chemical weapons threat” onboard the plane, the official told ABC News, though it was not clear what kind of threat, specifically, this may have indicated was on the plane. ABC described the threat as “not credible at the moment.”
Another official told the New York Post a similar version of events once the plane had landed: “Aircraft is being directed to the hijack site so this will take time before passengers get to Terminal One.” The “hijack site” is the name of a secure area far from other planes where a suspicious plane can be safely inspected, named so because it was traditionally the area where hijacked planes were directed to land.
A Twitter user named Chrispine Sibande has begun tweeting that the plane is being thoroughly searched by investigators; it has not been confirmed, though it is suspected, that Sibande is onboard the plane, as the tweet is geolocated to Queens, New York. Tweets immediately before those regarding Air France 22 are tagged to have been sent from Malawi.
Air France flight 22 being searched right now at JFK
— Chrispine Sibande (@CGSibande) May 25, 2015
Images of the flight itself sitting in the hijack site at JFK have surfaced on Twitter:
Update 11:56 AM: Rivet Radio reporter Steve Grzanich reports that the plane’s check appears to be clear so far. Reports surfacing elsewhere that flights into JFK have been delayed until officials are certain Air France 22 is safe.
UPDATE: Air France Flight 22 from Paris has landed at JFK w/ fighter jet escort after threat. Check so far is clear. pic.twitter.com/sJ7dpocblU
— Steve Grzanich (@SteveGrzanich) May 25, 2015
Update 12:17 PM: Passengers have reportedly been permitted to exit the plane, though the investigation remains ongoing.
Update 1:59 PM: Fox NY is reporting that “as many as five” other planes are also being checked on the ground at JFK airport. The news outlet notes that Air France 22 itself has been emptied of passengers, but that two other flights entering JFK– one a Saudi Airlines flight and another American Airlines– will be inspected in the same way upon landing. The report notes that, in addition to the call received by Air France, “an anonymous call was received by a police communications operator at the Maryland State Police McHenry Barrack, in Garrett County. The caller made a bomb threat involving commercial aviation.”
Fox adds that officials are “concerned about a possible plot to disrupt and delay air travel in the New York area on the last day of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.”