A bomb threat made against a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Beijing prompted a full-scale emergency evacuation with passengers forced to flee via the plane’s emergency slides after the threat was deemed highly credible. Several passengers were slightly injured in the evacuation process according to a spokesperson for the airline.
Chinese state-affiliated media said that the “explosive device represented a live threat”.
Cathay Pacific flight CX390 departed Hong Kong at 9:23 am on Saturday, September 11, 2021, bound for Beijing Capital Airport. Police say they received a threat at around 10:40 am claiming an explosive device had been placed on the aircraft.
The Airbus A330 aircraft landed at around midday and was immediately stopped on the tarmac. Although Cathay Pacific’s A330 aircraft are capable of carrying around 250 people, only 30 passengers were onboard this flight due to continuing pandemic travel restrictions.
A spokesperson for the airline did not directly address the bomb threat but said of the matter: “We will continue to provide necessary assistance and support to the concerned passengers. The airline will also continue to cooperate with the authorities on the investigation.”
Chinese media initially reported the incident as a bomb scare and said that the Airport Police District Criminal Investigation Team were investigating the incident. Late on Sunday night, however, the Global Times said the matter was now being investigated as a “live threat”. No arrests have been made.
After landing in Beijing, a relative of one of the passengers onboard the plane said flight attendants starting to look through the overhead lockers while whispering to one another and looking nervous.
Shortly afterwards the emergency exits were opened and passengers were ordered to evacuate. The passengers were then made to wait on the tarmac for around an hour and a half before being transported to the terminal.
Bomb threats are surprisingly common but the vast majority are classified as malicious hoaxes and in most cases, passengers and even crew are never told a threat has been received.
In some cases, however, further investigation is warranted and in the most serious cases, passengers can be deplaned and luggage searched. It is, though, incredibly rare for a bomb threat to prompt an emergency evacuation, especially via the aircraft slides due to the risk of injury.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.