“Three specific aircraft were initially identified – three 767s,” British Airways’ CEO Willie Walsh told the BBC.
“Two of those aircraft have been tested, and very low levels of radioactive traces have been discovered on the aircraft,” he added.
Tests are also to be carried out on a third plane grounded in Moscow.
“The initial results of the forensic tests, which were confirmed late this afternoon, have shown very low traces of a radioactive substance onboard two of the three aircraft,” according to a Statement on the airline’s website.
“British Airways has been advised that this investigation is confined solely to these three B767 aircraft, which will remain out of service until further notice.
“British Airways understands from advice it has been given that the risk to public health is low,” the statement continued.
The airline is now looking into 221 flights between the 25 November and 29 November carrying a total of 33,000 passengers.
While underlining that the risk of contagion is very low, the company has advised passengers who travelled on the affected flights to call its special helpline number (see below) and to seek medical advice locally.
Detectives at Scotland Yard have not revealed why they became interested in the three planes but it is known that they are retracing the movements of people associated with Litvinenko.
“I was sick the night after the flight. Of course I am worried that it is because of this,” passenger Hugh Symes from Stockholm told Expressen.
“I had a high fever, aches, and I vomited up everything I had in my body.
“I am going to get tested today. I want to be sure that I haven’t been exposed to the radioactive element,” said Symes.
But according to John-Christer Lindhé from the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority, Symes has nothing to worry about.
“If somebody has already been sick it is not due to radiation; it is salmonella or something else.
“High doses lead to nausea, diarrhoea and hair loss, but I do not think that these doses are enough to even cause nausea,” Lindhé told news agency TT.
Were you on the flights?Email or call The Local on 08 656 6518
Flights from London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda, and from Stockholm Arlanda to London Heathrow:
19 November, BA780 and BA781
22 November, BA780 and BA781
23 November, BA780 and BA781
24 November, BA780 and BA781
British Airways has called for affected passengers to make contact at the following number.
0044 191 211 36 90
People in Sweden who flew on the affected planes and who are concerned that they may have been sick as a result can call the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority at the following number:
020-20 20 00