A Lion Air flight bound for Belitung Island from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport was delayed this morning after a passenger mentioned that there was a bomb in the plane — after everybody had boarded.
The bomb threat was made by a passenger identified by the initials FW to a cabin crew member. The flight’s captain immediately ordered an evacuation of the plane which inevitably set the departure time back a couple of hours.
“Another check of the aircraft was carried out, including on all 166 adult passengers, six children and two infants, as well as all baggage and cargo,” said Lion Air Corporate Communications Officer Danang Mandala Prihantoro, as quoted by Kumparan today.
Danang said that authorities found no explosives on the plane, and the flight eventually took off at 11:15 am, just under two hours after its scheduled departure time of 9:25 am.
FW was handed over to Airport Police and is still being investigated. Lion Air did not make clear the nature of FW’s bomb threat, though they did indicate that it could have been a joke (as hard as it is to imagine that that anybody could think still think making a bomb joke on an airplane is a good idea in this day and age).
“Lion Air Group urges all customers not to joke about bombs. All information regarding explosives, whether it’s real or fictitious, will be dealt with by the relevant authorities. Joking about bombs in flight is a criminal offense in accordance to Article 437 of the Aviation Law,” Danang said.
Under the law, those who joke about bombs in flight can be punished with anywhere from 1 to 15 years in prison.
Bomb threats or jokes on a plane have been rare in Indonesia lately, but in late 2015/early 2016 there were several cases of them happening on domestic flights (and once on an international flight) in the span of a few weeks, spurring the government to raise awareness about the laws against them through the media.