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Jakarta Post

Garuda flight delayed for six hours over bomb joke

  • Andi Hajramurni

    The Jakarta Post

Makassar, South Sulawesi   /   Fri, March 3, 2017   /  06:20 pm
Garuda flight delayed for six hours over bomb joke Garuda Indonesia aircraft are parked at Terminal 3 of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten. (Tempo/Tony Hartawan)

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia delayed a flight departing for Jakarta from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Friday after a passenger claimed he was carrying a bomb.

Flight number GA 611 was scheduled to take off at 6:20 a.m. local time, but because of the bomb joke, authorities delayed its departure until 12:20 p.m.

Turah Ajiari, the head of the communications and legal section of state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I at Sultan Hasanuddin Airport, said the aircraft was delayed because it had to be searched and cleared of any possible explosives. All of the total of 209 passengers and their belongings, as well as cargo, were taken out and re-checked.

“It took six hours to clear the aircraft,” said Turah.

The passenger, Hisyam Ihsan, 52, said during the investigation that he made the joke about a bomb because he was disappointed at finding that all the overhead luggage compartments in the passenger cabin were full, leaving him no space for his carry-on baggage.

“Because of his disappointment, he spontaneously commented that his luggage contained bombs,” said Turah.

A member of the cabin crew, who heard Hisyam’s comment, straightaway reported it to the pilot, who in turn reported it to the aviation security authorities at Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport.

Based on existing aviation standard operating procedures, Turah said, all the passengers and the whole aircraft had to be searched and cleared, even though Hisyam, who is a lecturer at Makassar State University (UNM), claimed his bomb comment was just a joke.

Because of the delay, 19 of the 209 passengers cancelled their tickets and took other flights. Meanwhile, Hisyam who had been on his way to Jakarta to attend a training program, had to undergo questioning by airport authority investigators for several hours. He signed a letter promising he would never again make any bomb jokes. (ebf)