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Recent Bomb Threats Divert Flights

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Ever since the attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, numerous bomb threats against airlines have occurred. The following outlines the threats that have occurred over the last month, and with the exception of Singapore, resulted in diverted flights:

  • November 17, 2015: Two Air France flights traveling from the United States to Paris were diverted because of bomb threats, one to Salt Lake City, Utah, and the other to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • November 20, 2015: A Spirit Airlines flight headed to Minneapolis returned to Ft. Lauderdale because of a possible threat overheard by a passenger.
  • November 22, 2015: A Turkish Airlines flight departed the United States for Istanbul, Turkey, and diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia because of an alleged bomb threat.
  • November 22, 2015: A Singapore Airlines traveling from San Francisco to Singapore, landed safely despite a bomb threat.
  • December 7, 2015: An Air France flight left San Francisco for Paris diverted to Montreal, Canada because of bomb threat.
  • December 20, 2015: An Air France flight enroute from Mauritius to Paris diverted to Kenya due to a bomb scare.

Actions Taken

Diverted flights resulted in extensive security actions by local law enforcement and extensive delays.  In each instance, the threats were found to be false, but the recent Air France incident was the result of a fake bomb being planted that was found by a passenger.

A Growing Trend?

The last time such a rash of threats occurred was in January, after a threat deemed credible caused F-16's to scramble and escort two planes to land at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport.  Reports indicate that more than 50 bomb threats were received by airlines after the incident.

Impacts to People and Airlines

The bomb threats to airlines seemed to increase after the Paris Attacks on November 13, 2015, and some reports indicate that these threats have a psychological impact on people, one of the goals of terrorism.  Although nothing suspicious was found, with the exception of the Air France flight that diverted to Kenya because of a fake bomb, the overall impact to the airlines involved is likely to be in the tens of thousands per diverted flight, according to one report.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.