A flydubai plane bound for Kabul in Afghanistan was forced to return to Dubai early this morning due to what authorities in the UAE are calling an “accidental incident” involving a disruptive passenger onboard. However, an Iranian news agency earlier reported a suspected hijacking attempt of the passenger plane. The exact details of what happened are still unknown.
flydubai flight FZ301 which was operated by a Boeing 737-800 capable of carrying 189 passengers, departed Dubai International Airport this morning at around 4:40am for the 1,688km journey to Kabul. The dramatic and horrifying incident took place over Iranian airspace, just over an hour after the plane took off.
The Iranian ANA news agency said a passenger armed with a knife attempted to force entry into the cockpit midway through the flight. Cabin crew managed to trap the passenger in a lavatory before eventually disarming him and then tying him to a seat.
“The accidental incident happened as a result of a behaviour of one of the passengers who was detained by the competent authorities upon the arrival of the plane to the airport,” explained Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority.
In a statement, flydubai also said its flight was forced to divert due to a “disruptive passenger”. A spokesperson for the airline said the flight departed again with a delay of several hours.
Neither the GCAA or flydubai was able to provide any further information about the “disruptive” passenger. At the time of this report, no passengers who were onboard the flight had come forward with their account of what had happened – creating somewhat of a mystery over what exactly occurred onboard FZ301.
Presumably, the ANA news agency got its information from air traffic control communication or from government sources but the disparity with the UAE’s account couldn’t be starker if it tried.
Aviation analyst, Alex Macheras has posted an update on his Twitter account saying reports of a knifeman onboard the plane have been confirmed by passengers who witnessed the incident. He says the drama unfolded in the forward galley and the passenger threatened cabin crew and demanded access to the cockpit.
Only a few weeks ago, a member of cabin crew onboard an Air China flight was taken hostage by a passenger armed with a fountain pen. The domestic flight was forced to divert and a police SWAT team managed to overpower the suspect and release the flight attendant without serious injury. Authorities later said the man was suffering from mental ill health.
It’s not known whether anyone was injured in this latest and undoubtedly terrifying incident. The motives and further details of the “disruptive” passenger are not yet known.
flydubai first started flying to Kabul in 2010. At the time, the airline’s chief executive said the service was an “important step forward in the reemergence of Afghanistan.” However, today flydubai remains only a handful of airlines that deem it safe enough to fly to the city.