JAKARTA: A drunk passenger sparked a hijacking alert on a Virgin Australia flight heading for the Indonesian resort island of Bali Friday when he attempted to break into the cockpit, officials said.
Security forces rushed to the airport when the 737-800 touched down on the popular resort island, as authorities said they had received information the Brisbane to Bali flight had been hijacked.
However, Virgin Australia said the drunken passenger had sparked the alarm when he slammed on the cockpit door. He was later arrested by Indonesian authorities.
“This is no hijacking, this is a miscommunication,” said Heru Sudjatmiko, a Virgin Australia official in Bali. “What happened was there was a drunk person… too much alcohol consumption caused him to act aggressively.”
“Based on the report I received, the passenger tried to enter the cockpit, through the cockpit door, by banging on the door but he did not enter the cockpit at all.”
He said the individual was stopped by crew and handcuffed and placed in a seat at the back of the plane. After landing he was taken off the plane and put under arrest.
Palani Mohan, a passenger on a Garuda flight that was about to take off from Bali, said that when the drama began the pilot of his plane announced the airport was in lockdown.
“The captain of my plane made an announcement saying we were delayed indefinitely because a hijack was going on in Bali airport, about 150 metres (yards) away from us.”
“I saw at least five vehicles including military-style trucks, filled with men in uniform, rushing towards the plane,” he said.
“Then the Virgin plane taxied away, followed by the convoy of security forces.”
The airport was shut down for a time but after the Virgin plane was taken off the tarmac flights resumed.