A police spokesperson has confirmed that 28 people were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning after a number of raids across South Essex – the operation has allegedly uncovered a plot to hijack ‘around 15’ aircraft of various sizes from Southend Airport on Bank Holiday Monday. At an address in Leigh On Sea, documents have also been recovered that explained how each plane was to be ‘stolen,’ with pilots taking off and then flying up and down Southend Seafront for fifteen minutes before returning the planes undamaged to the airport on the outskirts of Rochford.
Sgt Det Ins Adm Lord Sir Colin Collins added: ‘We were acting on intelligence received last weekend that a group of militants from the Al-Zhafavah Front were planning to provide a Bank Holiday Monday Airshow in Soutnend ‘at any cost,’ and three recovered laptops all had evidence that untrained pilots have been rehearsing the route in Microsoft Flight Simulator. While it may look easy to get an Airbus A319 into the air and then perform a number of low passes between The Kursaal and Genting Casino, it is actually pretty tricky for someone with limited flying experience – the Wingwalker would probably have been killed on an aircraft of this size as well. I am delighted that my officers have stopped this operation before it could get off the ground, and all I can do is reassure the people of Southend that they are protected from any unauthorised and unsafe airshows taking place this weekend, or indeed on any other weekend.’
He added: ‘As a precaution, we have advised the management at London Southend Airport to raise all of their perimeter fences by six feet – this work had already been scheduled for 2017 to try and stop people turning up and feeding the planes anyway. Public safety is our number one concern over the Bank Holiday Weekend, and we will have extra officers all over the area to prevent any copycat operations to hijack passenger aircraft in the name of Tourist Fundamental Extremeism.’