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Sunshine Coast man tells of Virgin plane 'storming'

ON ALERT: An Indonesian Air Force member stands guard near a Virgin Australia airplane in Bali, Indonesia, yesterday.
ON ALERT: An Indonesian Air Force member stands guard near a Virgin Australia airplane in Bali, Indonesia, yesterday. Afpap

A SUNSHINE Coast man aboard a flight to Bali, initially reported as hijacked, has told of armed men storming the aircraft.

Businessman Phil Perkins said passengers had been calm during the in-flight drama but had become uneasy when the flight was met by numerous armed officers on arrival at Denpasar Airport, which had been closed and put on full alert.

"At the end, it was pretty scary," Mr Perkins told the Daily last night.

"BUT during the whole incident, nobody was frightened."

Fears of a hijack were sparked when a reportedly drunk or drug-affected man tried to force his way into the cockpit of Virgin Australia flight VA41 about two hours into the six-a-half-hour flight from Brisbane.

The man was escorted to the back of the plane by flight attendants and restrained.

Indonesian Air Force personnel stand guard by Virgin Australia Flight VA41.
Indonesian Air Force personnel stand guard by Virgin Australia Flight VA41.

 

Bali Air Force Commander Colonel Sugiharto told media the perpetrator was a Queensland passenger named Matt Christopher Lockley, 28. Mr Perkins, 50, who was sitting in row three, said neither he nor two women next to him had noticed the man's attempt to enter the cockpit.

However, Mr Perkins said news of what happened had circulated among passengers by the time the flight landed.

He said the man had been "off his face" but "ended up down the back of the plane without much ado".

But Mr Perkins began to worry when he saw armed police run out to the plane upon landing.

He said the plane was escorted as far away from the main terminal as possible, before being surrounded by more armed men.

"There were more and more blokes lying on the ground squat-style with guns looking at the underneath of the plane," Mr Perkins said.

"Just after that, a batch of about 10 of them drew guns on the plane."

Matt Christophers Lockley (right) of Australia is arrested by Indonesian police officers.
Matt Christophers Lockley (right) of Australia is arrested by Indonesian police officers.

Mr Perkins, who divides his time between Maroochydore and Morayfield for his work with his electrical and telecommunications business Lectel, described the reaction by Balinese authorities as "overzealous".

Mr Perkins was among a party of six travelling to Bali for an eight-night executive retreat.

"We're here to relax and rejuvenate and have a beautiful holiday," he said.

"We're supposed to reconnect with our souls. I think our souls are gone," he joked.

Mr Perkins commended Virgin staff for the way they handled the incident.

"The air hosties were very, very good," he said.

He told a Caboolture friend on Facebook after the drama: "All safe and looking forward to a beer".

Topics:  alcohol editors picks hijacking virgin australia



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