Brits delay Asiana plane to hunt for Korean thief

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Brits delay Asiana plane to hunt for Korean thief

Asiana Airlines, a major Korean airline, said yesterday it was considering legal action against British police and air traffic authorities after one of its passenger jets was raided shortly before departure in a botched manhunt for a suspected thief.

The sudden search operation forced the plane to delay its takeoff for over an hour at London’s Heathrow Airport on Saturday, Asiana officials said.

Asiana’s flight OZ522 with 289 passengers on board was ordered to stop by police immediately after leaving its boarding gate for takeoff. Police said they needed to search for a Korean woman they suspected of theft.

A Brazilian man earlier approached airline officials at the boarding gate half an hour before the plane’s departure, demanding that they find the woman, whom he said was seen taking his wallet by an employee at a duty free shop.

Asiana declined, but suggested he conduct the search himself among waiting passengers and made four in-flight announcements asking the wallet’s keeper to come forward.

When the aircraft prepared to take off as scheduled at 9 p.m., British police ordered it to turn back, claiming it had accurate witness accounts.

Despite protests from Asiana, police officers boarded the plane with the duty free shop employee and conducted a search to no avail.

Asiana said it has sent an official letter of protest to British airport authorities.

“We will consider taking legal action against the British police and airport authorities ” said an Asiana official.

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