January 22, 2019
Man allegedly told crew he was armed and demanded diversion shortly after takeoff
The plane eventually landed in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA
Associated Press in Moscow
A drunk passenger attempted to hijack a passenger jet in Russia, officials have said.
The Aeroflot flight from the Siberian city of Surgut destined for Moscow suddenly made a 180-degree turn on Tuesday, sparking concerns of possible terrorism as the plane reported radio problems.
But those worries soon passed when it became clear that the passenger was very drunk,according to one Russian news agency.
According to investigators, the 41-year-old man “in a state of drunkenness, threatening that he had a weapon, attempted to break into the cockpit and demanded that the flight destination be changed”.
The pilots, reportedly convincing him that they would need to refuel, rerouted the plane to the city of Khanty-Mansiysk. Once there, Russian police in masks boarded the plane and detained the suspect.
The man is a resident of the city of Surgut and has a criminal record, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee said. He faces up to 12 years in prison for the hijacking attempt.
It is not yet clear whether he had a weapon. Video from the plane, published by the news agency Mash, showed other passengers berating the would-be hijacker after police boarded the plane.
“We’re late because of you,” one man yelled. “You dumbass.”
The arresting officers were dressed as airport personnel, apparently in keeping with the ruse that the flight was going to refuel and head for a further destination.
Russian state news agencies, as well as the wire agency Interfax, reported that the man may have demanded the plane reroute to Afghanistan. Investigators have not confirmed where the man wanted to fly.