May 25—Authorities evacuated the main terminal of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport overnight Monday so law enforcement and explosives-sniffing dogs could search it and the parking garage, Londonderry police said.
A bomb threat called into the communication center around 11 p.m. prompted the actions, said Londonderry police Capt. Chris Gandia, commander of the town's Airport Division.
Police continue to investigate the matter, which kept some planes parked on the tarmac for more than 1 1/2 hours as the areas were swept.
"The bomb threat was a curveball to people's plans," said Michael Cousineau, a Union Leader reporter returning from Florida, where he saw the Toronto Blue Jays play.
"Passengers were tired and wanted to get home or to their hotel," said Cousineau, a passenger on the American flight from Chicago.
At one point, a pilot announced that someone had called in a bomb threat to the airport, and the call was able to be traced, Cousineau said.
Airport officials said operations returned to normal by 2 a.m. Tuesday.
The decision to evacuate was made out of an abundance of caution, Ted Kitchens, the airport's director, said in an email.
About 25 passengers and employees were in the terminal at the time, he said. Two flights with about 200 passengers between them were also impacted.
Gandia said there were "a lot of holes in the story" the caller provided.
But as authorities tried to gauge the credibility of the threat, the scarcity of passengers in the terminal made the decision to evacuate easier, he said.
Explosive ordnance disposal dogs from the airport, Manchester and state police combed the airport and parking garage, he said.
Cousineau said a few passengers on the Chicago-to-Manchester flight napped while the plane was parked on the tarmac. Flight attendants served ice water and allowed passengers to use the bathroom.
The flight, which was due to arrive ahead of its scheduled 11:53 p.m. time, pulled up to the gate at 1:34 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Departures later Tuesday morning were unaffected and on time, Kitchens said.
Gandia said the airport receives a bomb threat every couple of years. If the culprit is identified, he will likely face federal charges, Gandia said.