A Jetstar flight from Perth to Cairns had to make an emergency diversion back to Perth Airport early Friday morning when a passenger allegedly threatened to blow up the plane and shoot a crying baby according to court documents. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the 45-year old man was arrested on arrival and later charged with one count of making threats to aviation security.
“There was a lot of commotion, I felt sorry for staff dealing with disoriented passengers at 3 o’clock this morning,” one passenger who witnessed the incident told ABC television following the diversion.
Jetstar flight JQ977 took off from Perth airport at 1.20am on Friday morning bound for Cairns but the pilots decided to immediately return to Perth just an hour after departure as a result of the man’s behaviour. The Airbus A320 aircraft landed without further incident and was met by AFP officers.
The AFP said the man made a number of offensive comments to other passengers, which included threatening to “blow up the plane”, as well as swearing and talking about pornography with passengers under the age of 18 years.
At one point, the Cairns native, who was said to be drunk when he boarded the plane, even threatened to shoot a crying baby.
The man appeared at Perth Magistrates Court on Friday where he was denied bail. The maximum penalty for threatening aviation security is a fine of A$10,500.
“The safety of our customers & crew is our number one priority,” a spokesperson for Jetstar said of the incident.
“We have zero tolerance for any kind of disruptive or abusive behaviour. We thank passengers for their patience while our crew calmly and professionally dealt with the situation.”
Perth Airport Police Commander Peter Brinda said that Jetstar could also initiate civil action to recover the substantial costs they would have incurred from diverting the flight.