Christchurch Airport plane passengers told of 'bomb' under seat

By Matthew Theunissen

This plane was evacuated after a bomb scare. Photo / Mark Grace
This plane was evacuated after a bomb scare. Photo / Mark Grace

A passenger has described the dramatic scenes when a bomb threat was made against a plane from Palmerston North to Christchurch this afternoon.

Mark Grace - one of the passengers onboard the plane - was told that a call had been made stating there was bomb underneath a seat on the plane.

"A specific threat was made to the flight," he told the Herald.

"Police recieved a call from someone stating that there was a bomb under a seat on that flight."

He said passengers were unaware of the threat until after they had left the plane.

Passengers evacuate from the aircraft. Photo / Supplied
Passengers evacuate from the aircraft. Photo / Supplied

The aircraft landed slightly earlier then scheduled at Christchurch Airport and was then directed to the farthest end of the airport.

"We waited there a while and then the stewardess said for everyone to move off quickly and not to take our hand luggage."

The passengers were ushered onto a bus and it was not until they were well clear of the aircraft that they were informed of the threat.

Grace said sniffer dogs then boarded the plane and the passengers, 10 at a time, were then lined up next to the bus.

"Everyone had to be sniffer dogged," he said.

They were then taken to a room in the airport where they waited for their luggage to be scanned. Despite all the drama, Grace was not too fazed.

"It was taken very seriously. I thought the police and the staff did an excellent job to keep everyone informed and deal with it," he said.

"Everyone was in reasonably good spirits."

Passengers have since recovered their luggage and been able to leave the airport.

Air New Zealand said in a statement that it was it flight NZ5349 from Palmerston North to Christchurch.

"[It] was met by police on arrival at Christchurch Airport following a threat made to the airline's call centre which caused security concerns. Passengers and crew were evacuated onto the tarmac at Christchurch as a precautionary measure and in line with standard operating procedure. The matter is now in the hands of police."

Police said in a statement that they received a threat at about 2.30pm.

"With the safety of passengers and ground staff in mind, the plane was isolated and evacuated when it landed at Christchurch Airport at 3.08pm," police said.

"Working with Aviation Security, Police searched the plane, passengers and luggage and found no evidence of an explosive.

"Police appreciate how distressing the situation may have been for passengers and would like to thank them for their cooperation."

Officers are continuing their investigation to establish the source of the threat.

Christchurch Airport said it was a police matter and declined to comment.

- NZ Herald

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