An Australian man has been detained after banging on the cockpit door of a Virgin Australia plane flying to Bali, and causing a hijacking scare.
Matt Christopher Lockley, 28, a plumber from Queensland, was apparently drunk and aggressive, and had to be restrained by the crew on Friday’s flight from Brisbane.
Commander of Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, Airforce Colonel Sugiharto Prapto, said the airport received information of a “hijacking” at 2pm local time.
Based on this information, he said the plane was told to park at the end of the runway in case of anything dangerous on board.
For 30 minutes, he said authorities were unable to communicate with the plane, but after making visual contact they boarded the plane and found Lockley already detained at the rear.
“He was sitting at the back, not armed and didn’t attempt any fight,” Col Prapto told reporters.
“We’re still investigating how the pilot sent the hijack signal.”
Virgin Australia says the Boeing 737 300, flight VA41, landed safely at Denpasar at 3.16pm local time and all 137 passengers and seven crew had since disembarked.
“At no point was the safety of the aircraft in question,” the airline said in a statement.
“There was a disruptive passenger on board and the pilot notified authorities in advance of landing, as per standard operating procedures.
“The passenger was unarmed and is now in the custody of the Indonesian authorities.”
Bali Police Chief Inspector General Albertus Julius Benny Mokalu told reporters Lockley would be taken to a police station.
“We got inside the plane and Matt was already secured by one of the stewardesses from the cabin crew at the back. We then secured him and handcuffed him,” Insp Gen Mokalu said.
Lockley was still too “confused” to answer questions but police would not confirm he was intoxicated until they had done medical checks.
“According to the pilot and cabin crew statements, because the door was banged unnaturally, the pilot then locked the cockpit door from the inside and the pilot sent signal to ATC (air traffic control),” Insp Gen Mokalu said.
“According to cabin crew, he was paranoid and he was banging on the door.
“He still cannot answer questions because he still seems to be confused.”
Virgin Australia’s Bali airport manager, Heru Sudjatmiko, said initial reports there had been an attempted hijacking were a “miscommunication”.
“What happened was there was a drunk person … too much alcohol consumption caused him to act aggressively.”
The incident closed the busy airport between 2.55pm and 3.27pm.
Reports from air traffic control said the Virgin flight sent the hijacking signal when the plane was 180 nautical miles or about 30 minutes from Denpasar, he said.