A drunk passenger aboard a Virgin Australia flight from Brisbane to Bali prompted pilots to issue a hijack alert that disrupted air travel to and from the Indonesian resort island for hours on Friday, Indonesian and Australian authorities reported.
Indonesian troops boarded the flight after it landed at Bali’s airport in Denpasar, its original destination, and a 28-year-old Queensland man was arrested, authorities said.
Pilots issued a security alarm after the passenger began pounding on the locked cockpit door in an attempt to enter. The passenger was subdued by the flight crew, handcuffed and strapped into a rear seat of the Boeing 737-800 for the last hour of the flight, Virgin Australia airport manager Heru Sudjatmiko told Indonesia’s Metro TV.
“This is no hijacking, this is a miscommunication,” Sudjatmiko said. “There was a drunk passenger, intoxicated and aggressively behaved.”
Palani Mohan, a passenger aboard a Garuda flight about to take off from Bali when the Virgin Australia plane landed, told Sky News Australia that a throng of military and emergency vehicles surrounded the Virgin Australia aircraft and escorted it to a remote area of the airport. Mohan said the captain of his flight announced the incident as a hijack attempt that was delaying their clearance for takeoff.
The airport was closed for two hours while Indonesian authorities investigated the incident, delaying the deplaning of the 139 passengers aboard the Virgin Australia flight and forcing diversion of several other aircraft bound for Bali, transport official Herry Bakti Gumay told Metro TV.
A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the arrest of an Australian citizen in the incident and said the Australian Consulate would provide “assistance as required.”