Aviation security officers have stopped a man with a knife from boarding an Air New Zealand flight, as the ninth anniversary of New Zealand’s only hijacking approaches.
Police last week arrested the man as he tried to board a flight from Queenstown to Wellington.
A police spokesman told the Southland Times that Aviation Security caught the 63-year-old Kiwi when the knife set off an alarm.
A guard using a metal detector wand then found the knife, which the man had allegedly hidden behind his belt buckle. The man has been charged with possession of an offensive weapon and is due to appear in the Queenstown District Court this week.
New Zealand’s only hijacking involved knives and its ninth anniversary falls next month. In February 2008, Asha Abdille, a Somali refugee, took three knives with her onto an Air New Zealand domestic flight from Blenheim to Christchurch. Claiming to be carrying a bomb in her bag, Abdille tried to force the pilots to fly to Australia. When told the small 19-seater plane did not have enough fuel, she suggested they crash into the sea instead.
Abdille was jailed for nine years for stabbing two pilots during her hijack attempt and she remains New Zealand’s only convicted plane hijacker. Due for release in three weeks, Abdille is reportedly threatening to hijack another aircraft. See: NZ’s only plane hijacker ‘threatens to do it again’
In another more recent incident involving an Air New Zealand flight from the South Island, an angry old man allegedly pushed over a female flight attendant, causing the cancellation of an Air New Zealand flight last month.
The flight was NZ 648, a domestic sector from Queenstown to Auckland. See: Angry old man pushes air hostess to the ground
In that case, police let the 75-year-old assailant off without charge. Even so, airline vigilance remains high.
Written by Peter Needham