Air Seychelles pressed on with its regional flight schedule today barely hours after an early morning incident in which a man brandished a knife at a crew member on a Mumbai-Maldives flight.
The man was handed over to airport authorities in Maldives after the incident which took place 25 minutes before landing, and seven hours later flight HM017 took off for Seychelles after a thorough strip-down and full security checks.
Meanwhile the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authorities have engaged its counterparts in India and Maldives to carry out investigations in the incident.
In the early morning incident, a man, who is holding an Indian passport, took out a six to eight-inch folding knife at an Air Seychelles cabin crew 25 minutes before the flight was due to land in Maldives, but was quickly overpowered, tied to his seat and handed to the Maldives airport security on arrival.
Air Seychelles, the national airline of Seychelles, one of the foremost holiday islands of the Indian Ocean, has one of the best international safety and security standards.
In the wake of last year’s September 11 incidents, it carried out extensive extra security training among its staff to tighten up further security procedures.
The airline’s Executive Chairman, Capt. David Savy, says: “The crew did exactly what they’ve been trained do to. What I cannot understand is how the man got through the security net in Mumbai”.
He added: “This incident never got to become a hijack. It happened in the cabin of the aircraft well away from the cockpit and the man was then dealt with promptly and effectively”.
The 737 Boeing aircraft was kept on the ground for seven hours in Maldives for a thorough strip-down and took off just before noon Seychelles time (0900 GMT) for the three-hour journey to its final destination in Seychelles.
The Director of Civil Aviation in Seychelles, Mr Gilbert Faure said: “The incident was extremely well handled by the airline and our collaboration has ensured that all passengers on the flight were well looked after upon arrival. In fact, all but one of the passengers did not know about the incident until after they landed in Maldives”.
Right after landing in Seychelles the passengers received a welcome note of comfort from the airline’s Executive Chairman, and the crew, many of whom were met by close family members, posed for a press photo in front of the aircraft, calling out : “We did it in the Creole spirit, and we’re ready to fly again”.
Flight HM017 unloaded its passengers in Seychelles and picked up a fresh load of South African holidaymakers for Johannesburg one hour later.