SALT LAKE CITY — A bomb threat called in to an Air France flight from Los Angeles to Paris caused the plane to be diverted Tuesday evening to Salt Lake City International Airport, an airport official confirmed.
Air France Flight 65, carrying 497 passengers, landed in Salt Lake City around 7:30 p.m., said Bianca Shreeve, airport spokeswoman.
The bomb threat was "phoned into the plane," Shreeve said, though she didn't immediately know whether that meant the threat reached the flight crew, a control tower or another destination.
FBI agents, airport police and other agencies conducted an investigation on the plane Tuesday night, Shreeve said. Around 10:30 p.m., the flight was cleared and passengers were allowed back on the plane, she said. They were expected to continue their flight to Paris.
Passengers were evacuated from the plane to a "safe area away from the terminals" shortly before 8 p.m., Shreeve said. Salt Lake City International Airport was notified of the threat and diversion around 7 p.m. The plane originally took off from Los Angeles International Airport.
The airplane is an Airbus A-380, said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. He called the flight's diversion a "security issue" and said passengers were directed to the area of Terminal 1 after landing.
Shreeve and Kenitzer didn't immediately have details about the nature of the bomb threat.
"Several law enforcement agencies are working in concert, following established protocol, to determine the nature of the threats which caused the aircraft to divert," FBI special agent Todd Palmer said in an email Tuesday.
Affected Air France passengers were reportedly being held in customs at the airport. Airport police said FBI agents spoke with some of the flight's passengers, but didn't offer other details.
Another Air France flight headed to Paris from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., was diverted about the same time Tuesday to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Earl Morris, an international security consultant and former Transportation Security Administration agent, said Tuesday that bomb-sniffing dogs typically search a plane after a serious threat, looking for "any kind of residue" that would indicate explosives.
"(Investigators) will be doing another check of the passengers and scrutinizing the names and see if they can find any sort of correlation with anyone who may be in any kind of intelligence database," Morris said.
The aircraft itself is typically treated with caution, according to Morris.
"Generally the plane is taken to an area that is isolated from the (other) aircraft," he said.
The search of the plane woud be extremely thorough, Morris said.
"They’ll do everything within their power to ensure that it is completely safe," Morris said.
Bill King was at the airport Thursday evening to pick up his wife, Susan, from another flight. He said the news was worrisome.
"This is the last place I would have thought anything would happen like this," he said.
Susan King said it was surreal to hear of the bomb threat on a flight diverted into Salt Lake.
"I don't know if it's a hoax or if it's real, but it's scary," she said.
“The flight attendants quickly came by and cleared plates, then there was an announcement that we were making an emergency landing and that the flight attendants were trained exactly for situations like this,” Keith Rosso, of Santa Monica, California, a passenger on the flight from Los Angeles with his fiancee, told The Associated Press by phone.
Rosso said an FBI agent interviewed the passengers after the landing.
Contributing: Brianna Bodily, Nicole Vowell, Debbie Dujanovic