x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Threat to blow up flydubai plane was 'just a joke'

A Jordanian man was arrested at Amman airport after saying he would explode a bomb unless he is allowed in the cockpit of a Dubai-bound jet.

DUBAI // A man is under arrest after he claimed to have a bomb and threatened to set it off when he was refused entry to the cockpit of a plane about to take off from Jordan to Dubai on Monday.

The incident took place on flydubai flight FZ144 when the Jordanian passenger demanded to enter the aircraft's cockpit just before it was scheduled to leave from Amman International Airport.

He was arrested by police and the other passengers were taken off the plane while officers searched it for explosives. No bomb was found.

The man initially claimed to have been a pilot working in the Emirates.

"It was a false alarm," a senior Jordanian government official, who asked not to be identified, said yesterday. "He was acting silly and pretended to be a co-pilot. He was searched, arrested and held for questioning. Legal measures will be taken against him."

The official did not provide any further details about the suspect or what legal action would be taken. The incident was sparked when the passenger said he wanted to see the captain as the aircraft was about to take off, a Jordanian security official said after the incident.

"When his request was refused, he claimed he had a bomb and threatened to blow up the plane," he said.

"Police were alerted and they managed to evacuate the passengers before beginning a search of the plane.

"The passenger who made the bomb threat said he was just making a joke. An investigation is now under way."

Flydubai yesterday denied initial media reports that the suspect was a co-pilot working for the operator and said it had followed proper procedure once the incident took place.

"The passenger in question does not, and never has, worked for flydubai," a spokeswoman said. "Flydubai takes the safety of our passengers and crew very seriously, so our crew immediately alerted the relevant authorities."

The passengers reboarded the aircraft and the flight continued to Dubai International Airport after the search.

"We would like to praise the authorities for their swift action, which ensured the flight suffered a minimum delay in takeoff of one hour and five minutes," said the spokeswoman.