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Saturday, Apr 26, 2014

Asia

Drunk passenger that sparked hijack alert 'in custody'

Saturday, Apr 26, 2014

DENPASAR, Indonesia - A drunk passenger sparked a hijack 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 Boeing 737-800 touched down on the tourist island, after the pilot reported the Brisbane to Bali flight had been hijacked, Indonesian authorities said.

 

However, Virgin Australia said the drunken passenger had sparked a false alarm when he banged on the cockpit door. Indonesian authorities later arrested Matt Christopher Lockley, an Australian national.

"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."

A flight attendant said Lockley had demanded medicine and started banging on the cockpit door, according to Bali police chief Benny Mokalu.

He was stopped by crew, handcuffed and placed in a seat at the back of the plane, which was carrying 137 passengers and seven crew, officials said.

After landing, the passenger, who was unarmed, was taken off the aircraft and detained. Pictures showed Lockley, dressed in flip-flops, white shorts and a T-shirt, being taken away by heavily armed members of the air force.

Officials said he did not try to resist arrest and TV footage showed him being led away surrounded by a scrum of reporters.

Transport ministry official Herry Bakti said the alert was triggered when the pilot sent a signal to Bali airport that the plane had been hijacked, and then followed up with a verbal confirmation.

"We then guided the flight to land as they were flying close to the airport," he said.

A Virgin Australia spokeswoman told AFP the pilot had entered the code for "unlawful interference", which was "standard operating procedure, based on the threat they perceived at the time".

No passengers were hurt during the incident, officials said.

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