Media Release: Flight diverted to offload unruly passenger

Release Date: Tuesday, December 18 2012, 02:08 PM

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is again urging travelling passengers to behave appropriately during this holiday season.

Today’s request comes after a 34-year-old man was forcibly removed from a flight, which was diverted to Cairns when en-route from Sydney to Japan overnight.

It will be alleged in the Cairns Magistrates Court today that the heavily intoxicated man attempted to smoke a cigarette on the plane and was abusive towards crew and other passengers. It is further alleged the man punched and spat at crew members, and was eventually forcibly restrained by crew.

As a result of the man’s actions the Captain made the decision to divert the flight to Cairns Airport where the man was arrested by AFP officers.

Assistant Commissioner Shane Connelly said members of the public need to remember that when travelling on an aircraft their behaviour is subject to Australian laws.

“Violent and disorderly behaviour occurring both on-board aircrafts and at airports will not be tolerated,” Assistant Commission Connelly said. 

“Enough is enough. An aircraft Captain and Co-pilot can ill-afford to be distracted from their duties of safely flying an aircraft by having to deal with drunk, violent or disorderly passengers.”

“The cabin crew are there to make your flight safe and enjoyable, they should not have to restrain violent passengers, be abused or assaulted, or be interfered with in conducting their duties.”

The AFP has responded to more than 1000 alcohol-related incidents at the 10 major airports during the 2011-12 financial year.
Out of those incidents, 145 apprehensions were made for various offences relating to offensive and disorderly behaviour and excessive alcohol consumption. 

“The AFP takes aviation security seriously and those who behave violently, inappropriately, or interfere with or assault airline staff can expect to be charged," Assistant Commissioner Connelly said.

"Many instances involve alcohol use. While we want people to enjoy the festive season, the public should consume alcohol responsibly and ensure their behaviour remains safe and appropriate.”

“Don’t ruin your holiday, embarrass yourself and your family, and incur potentially heavy fines or compensation through violent or intoxicated behaviour on board an aircraft or in an airport.”

The aircraft was forced to dump its fuel load when it diverted to Cairns. The AFP understands that the airline will be seeking to recover the significant costs associated with the unscheduled stop in addition to any criminal charges the man will face.

The 34-year-old Perth man is expected to face the following charges:

  • One count of Smoking in Aircraft
  • One count of behave in a Disorderly and Offensive Manner on board an Aircraft,
  • One count of Interference with Crew or Aircraft

These offences all fall under the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and carry a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

The man will also be charged with Assaulting Crew General under the Crimes Aviation Act 1991 section 20A. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333