October 13, 2023
SINGAPORE – A 30-year-old Australian man was arrested on Thursday after allegedly making a bomb threat on a Perth-bound Scoot flight.
In response to queries, a police spokesman said the police were informed of an alleged bomb threat on the flight at about 4.55pm, and arrested the male passenger for criminal intimidation after they had finished their security checks.
Investigations are ongoing.
“The police take security threats seriously and will not hesitate to take action against those who intentionally cause public alarm,” the spokesman added.
In response to queries, a spokesman for budget carrier Scoot said the plane left Changi Airport at 4.11pm, and a decision was made to turn back about one hour into the flight “due to a bomb threat”. It landed at Changi Airport at 6.27pm.
The spokesman said: “The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) was activated to escort the aircraft back to Changi Airport. Emergency services were also activated.
“TR16 landed safely in Singapore at 6.27pm where security checks were carried out. Scoot is assisting the authorities with their investigations. As this is a security matter, we regret that we are unable to provide further details.
“Scoot sincerely apologises for the disruption and inconvenience caused. The safety of our customers and crew is our top priority, and we will continue to provide assistance to our customers.”
RSAF said in a Facebook post that it activated two F-15SG fighter jets to escort the Scoot aircraft.
Flight TR16 has 363 passengers and nine cabin crew members, as well as two pilots on board.
Its flight path on flight tracking website Flightradar24 showed the Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying in circles off the east coast of Malaysia before flying towards Changi Airport.
The flight, which had left from Terminal 1, was scheduled to arrive in Perth at 8.35pm.
However, an account called SquawkAlert on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, said it had made a 7700 squawk, referring to when a flight experiences an emergency.
At 7.40pm, passengers were still on board the plane.
A 30-year-old systems analyst, who did not want to be named, told The Straits Times that passengers were informed at about 5.05pm that the aircraft was experiencing “minor issues”.
When the fighter jets arrived to escort the flight, he added that people were “passing phones to those seated by the windows to take photos”, adding that he did not sense much alarm among those on board.
He did not witness any passengers behaving suspiciously but noted that after the plane landed, the police came on board to escort two individuals out.
The pilot then announced the bomb threat, although he said he believed it to be most likely a hoax, with the security checks being part of the regulations.
At about 10pm, the passenger said that refreshments were provided after they disembarked.
It was also announced that all affected passengers will get hot meals during their upcoming flight to Perth, which was scheduled to happen later at night.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said a runway was closed at Changi Airport at 6.26pm to facilitate ground operations, and was reopened at 7.25pm.
Eight arrival and six departure flights were delayed, including one carrying National Development Minister Desmond Lee, who was flying back from Kuala Lumpur.
He apologised to his residents in a Facebook post for being late for his Meet-the-People Session due to the delay.
He told ST that his flight had taken off later than scheduled and was then put in a holding pattern, with the delay about two hours in total.