SLC Airport only had 15 minutes to prepare for Air France flight diverted due to bomb threat

Posted at 7:44 PM, Nov 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-18 21:44:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Fifteen minutes. That’s all of the time Salt Lake International Airport had to get ready for Air France flight 65 Tuesday evening.

“It was quick,” said airport spokesperson Bianca Shreeve.

But, they managed to get everything in place for the emergency landing.

“Airport police, airport fire--who is on scene for any diversion--as well as our emergency operations center,” she said.

Unsure of what might be on board the flight, which was heading from Los Angeles to Paris, authorities evacuated hundreds of passengers.

“Our airport police then went into plane with their K9 unit,” she said.

Not only did police and the FBI scour the aircraft, they questioned passengers.

Terrorism expert Randy Watt, who is a retired Colonel from the Utah Army National Guard and former Ogden Assistant Police Chief, said there’s a lot police have to pour over when searching for a bomb.

“It can be packaged in a number of ways,” he said. “You’re going to look at a variety of potential delivery methods.”

It took authorities several hours to clear the plane, but after determining it was safe, the Air France flight took off and landed safely in Paris.

While Watt said bomb threats are actually fairly common, when it’s threats to a plane bound for France, a country recently attacked by terrorists, it changes the story.

Plus, these threats come on the heels of the crash of a passenger jet in Egypt, believed to have been sparked by a terrorist bomb.

"It’s the complete picture that you look at: What might be the reason, what might be the motivation?” he said. “When you have a recent incident… and you have a very active and stated terrorist threat directed at America, directed at people from the western countries, and you have an aircraft in flight, you have to take it serious."

The FBI now has to figure out the reason and motivation behind the threat, and who called it in.

The grounded Air France flight 65 was the second flight Tuesday night to make an emergency landing. Another Air France flight landed in Halifax, Novia Scotia, also because of a bomb threat.