MOSCOW: A drunk passenger on a Russian domestic flight demanded the plane change course, reportedly to fly to Afghanistan, forcing an emergency landing in Siberia on Tuesday.
The Aeroflot plane, travelling from Surgut in western Siberia to Moscow, landed in the nearby city Khanty-Mansiysk instead. Russia’s Investigative Committee said the man, who was not identified, was “in a state of inebriation”.
He was detained after the aircraft landed in Khanty-Mansiysk, some 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) east of Moscow. A criminal probe was opened into the incident, investigators said.
“Threatening that he had a weapon, he tried to break into the cockpit during the flight and demanded to change the course of the aircraft,” investigators said in a statement.
“The aircraft commander made the decision to make a forced landing in Khanty-Mansiysk,” the statement said.
Russian state media published a video apparently shot by a passenger showing the man being detained by several armed masked men inside the plane.
The pilot is heard thanking passengers — who appeared calm — for their “understanding in the situation” to the sound of applause. Investigators said that the man was a resident of Surgut previously convicted for damaging property.
The Russian news agency Interfax earlier quoted aviation sources as saying the man had demanded the passenger plane be diverted to Afghanistan.
Russian media reported that authorities had cut off access to Khanty-Mansiysk Airport. Aeroflot said that “no passengers or crew were hurt” and that it had sent a plane to take the stranded passengers to Moscow.
“The incident did not affect the work of the company. All flights are on schedule,” Aeroflot said in a statement.
Russia’s flagship carrier added, however, that the airline’s “security and technical services are in a state of heightened vigilance”. “We ask passengers to treat the enhanced control when boarding aircrafts with understanding,” the company said.__The News