A drunken passenger on a Virgin Australia plane headed to Bali from Brisbane was arrested Friday for causing a hijack scare by trying to enter the cockpit.
The pilot of Flight VA41 alerted air-traffic control of a possible hijack, an hour before it landed in Bali, after a drunk passenger reportedly attempted to enter the cockpit. On landing at Denpasar airport on the island of Bali, Indonesian troops checked the plane while the 28-year-old Australian passenger, Matt Christopher, was arrested by local police. A local Virgin Australia official sought to downplay the incident by blaming the confusion on a "miscommunication" caused by the passenger's aggressive behavior.
“This is no hijacking, this is a miscommunication," Heru Sudjatmiko, a Virgin Australia official, reportedly told a local TV channel, adding: "There was a drunk passenger, intoxicated and aggressively behaved. He was trying to enter the cockpit, banging the door but he did not enter the cockpit."
The Boeing 737 was carrying 137 passengers, along with six crew members, all of whom left the plane unharmed while the airport was shut down temporarily, reports said. Bali is a popular tourist destination for tourists from Australia and other parts of Asia.
“There’s no problem with other passengers, everything in the plane is normal, and now the airport is back to normal,” Julius Adravida Barata, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation, told Bloomberg.
Palani Mohan, who was trying to board a different plane from the airport, reportedly said that the pilot of his plane had announced a lockdown of the airport.
"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 away from us. I saw at least five vehicles including military-style trucks, filled with men in uniform, rushing towards the plane," he said, according to Agence France-Presse.