U.S. military jets escort civilian plane into Honolulu airport

Reuters News
Posted: May 19, 2017 6:59 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military on Friday scrambled two Air Force fighter jets to escort an American Airlines flight into Honolulu International Airport after a disturbance was reported on board, a Pacific Command spokesman said.

Neither the military nor American Airlines immediately disclosed the nature of the disturbance, but local news media reported that a passenger had tried to force his way into the cockpit of the Honolulu-bound flight from Los Angeles.

HawaiiNewsNow, a consortium of three television network affiliates, cited unnamed sources as saying the man was Turkish and had earlier breached security at Los Angeles International Airport but "was assessed and allowed to board" the flight anyway.

Details of those media reports could not be immediately confirmed by Reuters.

American Airlines confirmed that the crew of Flight 31 from Los Angeles to Honolulu had requested that law enforcement meet the aircraft, an Airbus A321, upon landing due to an unspecified "disturbance during the flight."

The airline said its plane landed safely at 11:35 a.m. Hawaii time.

The incident also prompted Pacific Command to dispatch a pair of F-22 fighter jets to intercept the passenger plane.

"The F-22s escorted the airliner to the airport in accordance with homeland defense procedures. Local law enforcement responded once the civilian airliner was on the ground," said Commander Dave Benham.

Another Pacific Command officer told Reuters the two fighter jets belonged to the Air Force. Neither would elaborate on the nature of the disturbance or name of the airline.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Diane Craft and Cynthia Osterman)