Panic at Delhi airport as pilot sets off hijack alert on Kandahar flight
New Delhi: A hijack alert sent by mistake sent security teams at Delhi airport into a tizzy on Saturday afternoon and evoked memories of the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar in 1999. The captain of an Afghan airliner, headed to Kandahar, sent a hijack alert to air traffic control, which activated an emergency response.
The Airbus A-310 with 124 passengers (including an infant) and nine crew members was asked to immediately stop from proceeding for take-off to Kandahar and instead told to taxi to an isolation bay at the airport. Once docked, it was surrounded by CISF and other security personnel.
This is when the pilot told the security team that he had sent the message by mistake. Not willing to take any chances, CISF sanitised the aircraft and frisked all on board.
The Ariana Afghan Airlines commander, it emerged, was briefing his co-pilot about the protocol in the event of a hijack. CISF and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security said the captain pressed the hijack button by mistake.
The airplane’s captain, Rokai Naimi, submitted a written note saying: “Today our staff in Delhi informed us that there are plan(s) of hijacking aircraft. In cockpit, I briefed my first officer… Regarding this code we should be careful… But it was to(o) late, the Delhi ATC got it… It (happened) while briefing. It is not true (sic).”
Once cleared by security, flight FG-312 took off from Delhi at 5.41pm, a little more than two hours behind schedule.