A Malaysia Airlines flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur was forced to turn back after a passenger suspected to be from Sri Lanka, tried to enter the cockpit while threatening to “blow up” the plane, The Independent reported.
A spokesperson for the airline said the incident was caused by a “disruptive passenger” who was later arrested.
“MH128 departed Melbourne Airport at 11.11pm (1.11pm BST) local time…but made a turn back to Melbourne after the operating captain was alerted by cabin crew to a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit,” a statement said, adding that the plane added safely around half an hour after take-off.
“Following the incident on MH128, the disruptive passenger has been apprehended by airport security,” a spokesperson added.
“Malaysia Airlines, together with the Australian authorities, will be investigating the incident. At the moment, the airline does not wish to make any premature conclusions until a full investigation has been concluded.”
Malaysia’s deputy transport minister, Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, said the passenger claimed to have a bomb.
“It was not a bomb but a powerbank,” he added, saying the Sri Lankan national appeared to be drunk.
A woman named Vanessa told the 3AW programme her boyfriend had confronted the passenger as he tried to enter the cockpit.
“He was the one who first confronted him when an air hostess was getting scared of this guy and that’s when the guy said ‘I’m going to blow up this plane’,” she said.
Passengers told relatives they helped the crew “tie the man down” as the plane returned to Melbourne.
Photos posted online by those on board showed the man lying face-down in plastic cuffs, being restrained by passengers and staff.
Armed officers wearing body armour later entered the cabin.
Malaysia Airlines stressed that the aircraft was not “hijacked” at any point, adding that passengers had been safely disembarked.
“Safety and security are of the utmost priority to Malaysia Airlines,” it added. “The airline wishes to apologise for the inconvenience caused.
“Affected passengers will be accommodated at hotels and will be offered a seat on the next available flight or on other carriers.”
The Australian Federal Police confirmed officers had responded to the incident, which left the airport on temporary “lockdown”.
All departing and arriving flights were suspended as security operations continued, but operations have resumed.
Malaysia Airlines has been hit by two major disasters, including the loss of MH370 in March 2014, in circumstances that remain unclear, and the shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine months later.
More than 520 people died in the combined disasters, which put the airline at risk of collapse.