Virgin Australia plane in hijack alert after drunk passenger Matt Lockley storms cockpit
Man tried to force his way into the cockpit mid flight, prompting the pilots to report a hijack attempt
A drunk passenger who caused a hijack scare by attempting to force his way into the cockpit of a Virgin Australia flight has been arrested after the plane landed safely in Bali.
The Australian man, Matt Lockley, began acting aggressively and pounding on the cockpit door mid flight en route from Brisbane, Australia to the holiday island.
The commotion prompted the pilots to transmit the “7500” code, indicating a hijack was in progress, before the crew were able to handcuff the culprit.
Flight VA41 landed safely as scheduled, but the hijack scare led to the airport being closed for nearly two hours, forcing several flights to be diverted, Indonesian air force base commander Col. Sugiharto Prapto said.
Upon landing, the man was taken into custody by air force troops, scores of which quickly surrounded the jet. He is being held for creating a disturbance and investigators said they were waiting for him to sober up before questioning.
Col. Prapto said the plane was directed to park at the end of the runway in case explosives or weapons were involved. “We immediately took appropriate security measures involving troops because the initial information that we got was that the plane was hijacked,” he said.
Early statements from the Indonesian air force indicated officials believed a hijack had indeed taken place.
Bali police chief Maj. Gen. Benny Mokalu told reporters that after the man began beating on the locked cockpit door, the pilot issued the alert code to air traffic control. The crew then managed to restrain the man and put him in a rear seat for the remaining hour of the flight.
The Boeing 737-800 was carrying 137 passengers and seven crew members from Brisbane, Australia, to Bali, which is a leading tourist destination for Australians.
No passengers or crew were hurt in the incident, according to the airline.
The Australian authorities are on high alert due to potential security risks in Indonesia. Bomb attacks in Bali in 2002 and 2005 killed more than 200 people, many of them Australian holidaymakers.
The government’s current travel advice warns: “Terrorists have previously attacked or planned to attack places where Westerners gather, including nightclubs, bars, restaurants, international hotels, airports and places of worship in Bali, Jakarta and elsewhere in Indonesia. These types of venues could be targeted again.”
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