An apparently drunk passenger precipitated a major security alert aboard a Virgin Australia jet at the end of a flight from Brisbane to Bali today.
Flight VA41 had flown normally from the Queensland capital to the Indonesian holiday island. It landed at the international airport of Denpasar at 3.15pm local time. Reports say that a passenger tried to enter the cockpit and take over the plane, and the pilots transmitted the “7500” code, indicating a hijack was in progress.
An Indonesian air-force spokesman told the BBC that troops had boarded the plane and a passenger had been arrested. A Virgin Australia official was quoted by Indonesian TV as saying the passenger had been drunk and the plane had not been hijacked.
Several planes bound for Bali were diverted to other Indonesian airports, and departures from Denpasar were grounded during the incident.
Virgin Atlantic, the UK-based airline, tweeted: “We're aware of the news reports & we can confirm this is NOT a Virgin Atlantic flight. All Virgin Atlantic aircraft are accounted for & safe.”
The Australian authorities remain on high alert about the 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.”