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NAIA: Saudi plane hijack false alarm

Saudi Arabian Airlines flight SV 872 is isolated at the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City yesterday. RUDY SANTOS

MANILA, Philippines – A Saudi Arabian plane carrying 431 passengers was placed in isolation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 yesterday afternoon after the pilot activated by mistake a distress signal, which alerted air traffic controllers that the aircraft was under threat.

It turned out that the commotion was a false alarm about a hijacking incident, officials said.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal said air traffic controllers at the NAIA were alerted by “a distress call and a code transmitted to the tower.”

Monreal said the code was activated twice – first by the pilot and second when air traffic controllers asked the pilot for verification and he activated the code again.

He said air traffic controllers immediately informed airport authorities of the situation and emergency procedures were implemented.

“We immediately convened the crisis management team, comprised of the MIAA, Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and other related agencies,” Monreal said.

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Saudi Arabian Airlines flight SV 872 from Riyadh landed safely at the NAIA at 3:39 p.m.

Monreal said according to protocol, the pilot was directed to proceed to a remote location at the NAIA service road near Runway 06 “to prevent collateral damage.”

Upon landing, the pilot called the tower to tell airport authorities that there was a mistake.

CAAP director general Jim Syjiongco was assigned at the Control Tower to monitor the situation.

“Amid threats of terrorism, we were compelled to place the aircraft and the passengers in an isolated area at the airport,” Monreal said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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