Drunk passenger forces Malaysia Airlines flight to turn back

A silhouetted man looks out at aircraft operated by Malaysian Airline standing on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, Malaysia, on Aug 26, 2014. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
A silhouetted man looks out at aircraft operated by Malaysian Airline standing on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, Malaysia, on Aug 26, 2014. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A Malaysia Airlines flight to Colombo had to turn back to Kuala Lumpur due to a drunk passenger, the national carrier said on Sunday. Flight MH179 had taken off from Kuala Lumpur late on Saturday.

“The intoxicated passenger started harassing Malaysia Airlines’ crew shortly after the flight was airborne,” the company said in a statement. “Due to his big body size, other guests had to assist the crew to restrain the passenger.”

The airline said the plane was forced to return to “ensure safety and comfort of those onboard” and the unruly passenger had been handed over to authorities.

The plane was to arrive in Colombo at 12.18am local time, The Star newspaper reported. The flight departed again for Colombo at 10.06am on Sunday.

The flag carrier did not give other details.

Flightradar24 had tweeted early Sunday that the plane was returning after two hours of “fuel burn to reduce landing weight”.

AFP could not immediately reach Malaysia Airlines for comment.

The carrier suffered two major aviation tragedies last year.Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared in March after inexplicably diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course. No trace of the aircraft has been found.

MH17 went down in July in rebellion-torn eastern Ukraine after being hit by a surface-to-air missile. All 298 people aboard were killed.