The series of recent mid-air terror alerts and the alleged plot to blow up transatlantic flights continue to haunt passengers.
An Air India (A-I) flight with 164 passengers on board returned to Toronto on Tuesday after a suspicious object was found in the aircraft.
The aircraft — AI 188 — had left Toronto’s Pearson airport at 9.15 pm local time (7.35 am IST) for Amritsar via Birmingham and was an hour into its flight when a passenger informed the cabin crew that he found a piece of pipe in one of the bathrooms.
“The cabin crew informed the pilot who decided to fly back to Toronto. The flight was evacuated immediately and security agencies conducted a thorough search of the aircraft”, an A-I spokesman said.
“The unclaimed object found in the aircraft was a piece of pipe that was wrapped in an adhesive tape. This led to suspicion and as a matter of precaution the pilot decided to return to Toronto”, he said. The plane will leave for Amritsar at 9:30 pm local time (6 am IST on Wednesday), he said.
Security agencies are trying to ascertain who brought the pipe and left it in the aircraft.
A senior A-I official, who did not wish to be identified, said the unclaimed pipe might have belonged to one of the cleaning agencies engaged by the airline in Toronto.
The A-I official admitted it was a lapse on part of the private security agency appointed by the airline in Toronto airport. Most international airlines, including A-I, appoint private security agencies in overseas airports.
These agencies, which are approved by the local airport authorities, are entrusted with the task of carrying out a complete search of the aircraft before passengers board the flight.
Manjari Kakkar, chief of security of A-I refused to disclose any details of the investigation.
“Unless we receive full details of the case, we cannot say anything. We expect the details of the investigation conducted in Toronto to reach us by Wednesday,” she said.