False alarm: Saudi airlines pilot made 'distress call' by mistake


Posted at Sep 20 2016 03:56 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2016 06:06 PM

A Saudi Arabian Airlines passenger plane is pictured parked at the tarmac of Ninoy Aquino International airport in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

MANILA - A Saudi Arabian airlines plane carrying 413 passengers was placed in isolation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Tuesday, but it turned out that the commotion was a false alarm about a hijacking incident, an airline spokesman said.

The television said that Saudia flight 872 was travelling from the Saudi Red sea city of Jeddah to Manila. It was isolated at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the pilot advised the control tower that the plane was "under threat."

Security and plane officials surrounded the plane, and passengers were not able to disembark.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Eddie Villanueva Monreal said the pilot made a 'distress' call by mistake.

"Unintentionally pushed but the problem it was pushed twice," Monreal told reporters, noting that the captain "will be a subject of cross evaluation or questioning."

Monreal emphasized that there are no hijackers, "if we base it on what the captain has said."

He said officials only followed protocol after receiving the distress call, and "all supporting agencies were called on scene." Seen surrounding the plane were members of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group and Saudia officials.

Passengers deplaned past 5:00 p.m., two hours after the aircraft landed 3:00 pm and isolated at a secluded portion of runway 06.

Monreal said the aircraft will be "sanitized," to check if no one among the passengers "has a weapon or something inside their personal belongings."

Earlier reports showed MIAA Emergency Services Department received an advise from the Manila control tower that the flight was under threat, 20 miles before the jet landed at the airport.

In a Facebook live video, PTV 4 news reporter Princess Habibah Sarip, also refuted reports of hijacking, but she mentioned that security officials wanted to inspect the passengers' passports.

"We are sound and safe...sinasabi nila magkakaroon ng inspection, aakyat po ang security na ito to inspect one by one ang ating passengers," she said.

-- With reports from Raoul Esperas, Ginger Conejero, Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News and Reuters