Saudia pilot triggers false alarm in Manila airport

Posted on September 21, 2016

THE PILOT of a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight accidentally pressed an emergency alarm, creating a hijack scare and triggering a major security response at the Manila airport on Tuesday, authorities said.

Police and security personnel surrounded the Saudia flight from Jeddah after it landed on Tuesday afternoon following a report to the control tower that the plane was “under threat,” a Philippine aviation authority spokesman told AFP.

Passengers were forced to remain on the plane for about two hours, but were let off about 5:00 p.m. after it was confirmed there was no threat.

“Situation is normal. It was alleged that the pilot pressed the emergency light of the aircraft unintentionally,” Manila Police Chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters.

In Saudi Arabia, an airline spokesman also told AFP that there was no security threat.

“False alarm for hijack for Flight 872,” the spokesman said in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

The airline gave the same information on its Twitter account, adding that the aircraft had flown to Manila from the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Manila airport Spokesman Connie Bungag earlier released a statement saying the control tower received advice that the plane was “under threat” as it was 32 kilometers from landing.

She said authorities had implemented standard security operating procedures.

In its advisory, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said Saudia Airlines flight SV872 from Jeddah to Manila landed safely at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after squawking 7500 -- a distress code that a hijacking incident is in progress -- was received by Manila area control center at 2:13 p.m.

“Immediately the flight was given priority landing by airport authorities at 2:38 p.m. and was directed to park on the remote bay and isolated for security procedures,” CAAP said. -- AFP