Official: drunk airline passenger causes hijacking scare in Indonesia

The pilot of a Virgin Australia plane reported a hijacking attempt on Friday after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit

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A drunk passenger on a Virgin Australia plane flying to the Indonesian holiday island of Bali on Friday led to a hijacking attempt being reported, a official for the carrier said, according to the Associated Press.

On the flight, a passenger had tried to enter the cockpit, causing the pilot to report a hijacking attempt, Reuters reported an Indonesian transport official as saying.

“This is no hijacking, this is a miscommunication,” said Heru Sudjatmiko, a Virgin Australia official on the Indonesian resort island. “What happened was there was a drunk person... too much alcohol consumption caused him to act aggressively.”

Metro TV had earlier cited an Indonesian air force spokesman as saying the plane had been hijacked.

“We got information that a 737-800 from Brisbane to Bali has been hijacked,” Agence France-Presse quoted spokesman Hadi Tjahjanto as telling MetroTV television station, adding it was a Virgin flight.

Virgin Australia Airlines, formerly Virgin Blue Airlines, is Australia’s second-largest airline as well as the largest by fleet size to use the Virgin brand.

Hijacking scare

Senior transport ministry official Harry Bhakti said on MetroTV that “the pilot indicated that the plane has been hijacked.”

He added: “There’s information that a passenger tried to get into a cockpit, we are investigating.”

Palani Mohan, a passenger on a Garuda flight that was about to take off from Bali, told AFP: “The captain of my plane made an announcement saying we were delayed indefinitely because a hijack was going on in Bali airport, about 150 meters away from us.

“I saw at least five vehicles including military-style trucks, filled with men in uniform, rushing towards the plane.

“Then the Virgin plane taxied away, followed by the convoy of security forces. The flight attendant said it’s been taken off to a different part of the airport.

“Bali airport seems to be in lockdown, we’ve been told no planes will be departing or arriving. The pilot’s not allowing anyone off our plane.”

(With the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP)

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