• Security protocols were put in place and the passenger was removed from the flight
  • "No items of concern were found" with the passenger
  • Investigation into the incident was ongoing 

An Air New Zealand passenger onboard a flight from Whangarei to Auckland was removed from the aircraft after he joked about carrying a bomb.

The incident took place around 2 p.m. local time, Monday, (10 p.m. EDT, Sunday).

The aircraft was preparing to fly when the unidentified passenger joked about carrying a bomb. Immediately, the security protocols were put in place and the passenger was removed from the flight along with their luggage.

Confirming the news, a police spokesperson told Newshub that officers responded to the aircraft after "a person alleged another person was in possession of an explosive."

"Police did an extensive search of the person's belongings and the plane and no items of concern were found. The matter was resolved and two people - a man and a woman - are assisting police with our inquiries," the spokesperson told Newshub. Following the removal of the passenger, the flight traveled to the destination as scheduled.

Meanwhile, Michael Chubb, Whangarei District Airport manager, told the multi-platform news service that the safety of the passengers is their priority.

"It appears to have been a careless joke from the passengers' relatives, calling across the fence. So yeah like the sign says - all jokes are taken seriously," Chubb said.

It was, however, not clear if the passenger will face charges in connection with the incident.

In a similar incident earlier this year, a drunk passenger onboard an AirAsia flight from the Indian city of Kolkata to Mumbai, threatened to blow up the aircraft mid-air. Minutes after take-off, Mohini Mondol sent a note to the pilot through one of the flight attendants stating that bombs were strapped to her body and that she would detonate it. After the flight returned to Kolkata airport and made an emergency landing, the aircraft was taken to the isolation bay. The passenger was handed over to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and checked thoroughly, however, no bombs were found. Investigation revealed that the woman pulled off the ploy because she wanted to get back to Kolkata.

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Air New Zealand flight AFP / Sanka VIDANAGAMA