Saudia plane in 'isolation' at NAIA – reports
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A Saudia plane was placed at a designated isolation area at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday afternoon, September 20.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) received advice on Tuesday that Saudia Airlines flight SVA 872 from Jeddah was "under threat" 20 miles before landing, or around 2:15 pm, initial police reports said.
But as of 4:40 pm, two Rappler sources from the police and the military have ruled out hijacking.
A military source who is at the airport told Rappler that the passengers have been asked to leave the plane after authorities were told that the pilot had made a mistake in his distress call.
The plane was carrying 410 people, including 21 aircraft crew.
Passengers began leaving the plane and reached runway 6 shortly before 5 pm, according to Assistant Secretary Arturo Evangelista of the Department of Transportation.
Airport activities remained normal and no other flights have been cancelled.
In a press conference shortly before 5pm, NAIA General Manager Edmund Real said that the airport received a call from the tower that the plane made a “distress call” from the pilot who said the aircraft was “under threat.”
Upon clearing a portion of the airport, the plane was advised to “proceed to the isolated area,” Real said.
“Upon landing, the aircraft crew said they made a mistake,” Real added.
But airport authorities still proceeded with the standard security check because “you can never play around with safety and security.” Besides, the pilot pressed the alarm twice, Real said.
Despite the crew's claim that they had made a mistake in the distress call, authorities continued to isolate the plane following standard operating procedures, he added.
Authorities will have to make sure the plane is safe before they investigate what really happened. – with reports from Bea Cupin and Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com