An apparently drunk passenger aboard a Virgin Australia flight was arrested upon landing in Bali after attempting to enter the plane's cockpit and causing a hijacking scare.
According to the BBC, the pilot sent out a distress signal about an hour before landing, alerting authorities on the ground that a possible hijacking was in progress.
Flight details of Virgin plane in Bali amid reports of "hijacking" from FlightTracker pic.twitter.com/YVf9kvaWKE— Jason Morrison (@JasonMorrisonAU) April 25, 2014
The airport went into lockdown and sent out military trucks to meet the plane before concluding that the hijacking threat wasn't real. "This is no hijacking, this is a miscommunication," said Virgin Australia official Heru Sudjatmiko. He explained what happened, saying simply that "there was a drunk person. Too much alcohol consumption caused him to act aggressively."
According to Sudjatmiko, the passenger banged on the cockpit door but was unable to enter. The suspect, identified as 28-year-old Matt Christopher, was handcuffed by crew on board and arrested on the ground. The other passengers were evacuated in Bali, and no injuries were reported.
In a statement on the incident, Virgin Australia assured customers that "reports that Virgin Australia flight VA41 was hijacked en route from Brisbane to Denpasar are completely incorrect," adding:
The Boeing 737-800 aircraft landed safely at Denpasar airport at 15.16 local and all 137 passengers and 7 crew have since disembarked. At no point was the safety of the aircraft in question. There was a disruptive passenger on board and the pilot notified authorities in advance of landing, as per standard operating procedures. The passenger was unarmed and is now in the custody of the Indonesian authorities.
Chris Corless, a man waiting to board a flight in the Bali airport as the incident played out, said the situation was handled quickly. "Security surrounded the plane and then there was some movement then security left and the plane taxied to a normal gate," he said, adding that "all [was] said and done in 30 minutes."