A Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur was evacuated on the ground at Sydney International Airport on Monday evening after a passenger onboard the Airbus A330 airplane allegedly made a bomb threat and started threatening other passengers.
The 45-year-old suspect has been detained by the Australian Federal Police after the plane made an emergency landing at Sydney Airport. The man has been arrested and is due to be charged later this evening, although the police have not yet disclosed what charges he faces.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH122 departed Sydney at around 1:40 pm on Monday but the suspect started to make threats towards other passengers and the cabin crew a short time after takeoff, according to eyewitnesses on the plane.
Data provided by Flight Radar 24 shows the plane during a u-turn over the skies of New South Wales around an hour after departure and heading straight back to Sydney where it was cleared for priority landing and then surrounded by fire trucks and other emergency vehicles on the taxiway.
After stopping on the tarmac, other passengers were subjected to an agonizing wait as they waited for law enforcement to board the aircraft.
Muhammed Zubair, a passenger on the aircraft, provided a minute-by-minute account of what was happening on the plane via his X account as they waited for police to arrest the suspect.
“Captain just announced that before we get busses or goto terminal, Sydney Airport authorities are doing security checks, and can’t give us any time,” Muhammed wrote.
A short time later, Muhammed said passengers were being moved to the back of the aircraft.
“This lunatic (the suspect) now says it was a joke, he was testing Muslims. This idiot, he brings shame to other fellow Muslims,” Muhammed wrote in a follow-up post.
Eventually, police boarded the plane, handcuffed and arrested the suspect and ‘evacuated’ passengers onto the tarmac via airstairs. They were then driven to a secure holding area where they all face being interviewed before being released.
A spokesperson for the AFP said there was no threat to the community. In a statement, the police force said: “The AFP will not divulge operational matters, however, an emergency response plan was enacted, and an evacuation was initiated once it was deemed safe for passengers and crew.”
“The man is expected to be charged later tonight.”
Sydney Airport said it had been forced to cancel 30 domestic flights and that other services were facing delays of up to 90 minutes, as a result of incident.
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.