Indian man tries to open plane's emergency door in midair

An AirAsia Airbus A320.
An AirAsia Airbus A320.PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian man tried to open an emergency exit door on a packed AirAsia flight in midair, injuring fellow passengers and crew members who rushed to restrain him as the plane prepared to land, the airline said.

Following the incident, Mr Aftab Ahmed, 32, was detained and handed over to airport security in eastern Ranchi city late on Monday (July 10).

"AirAsia would like to confirm that the airline encountered an unruly passenger onboard (a) flight... from New Delhi to Ranchi on July 10," an airline spokesman said in a statement.

"Upon landing at Ranchi, the unruly passenger was handed over to the Central Indian Security Force for further investigation," it added.

Officials did not comment on the status of the detained passenger, the exact sequence of events or his possible motives.

A Press Trust of India report said Mr Ahmed is a resident of Ranchi, the capital of India's Jharkhand state.

"A man tried to open the emergency door... minutes before landing," the report said. "He also allegedly injured a few passengers and crew members when they attempted to stop him."

Monday's incident came two months after India announced plans to create a national no-fly list of unruly passengers, following cases of controversial politicians abusing flight staff.

The civil aviation ministry proposed banning passengers based on three categories of unruly behaviour - ranging from lewd comments and sexual harassment to damaging aircraft and murderous assault.

Depending on the severity of disruption, a passenger could be placed on the no-fly list for anything from three months to an unlimited period.

Mr Ravindra Gaikwad, a lawmaker from western Maharashtra state, made national headlines in March when he repeatedly hit a steward on an Air India flight.

In February, a passenger on an Indigo flight, India's largest budget airline, opened an emergency door just before take-off in Mumbai.

And in 2016, a drunken German tourist pulled a similar stunt after his flight landed in Mumbai, reportedly telling the authorities he did it "just for fun".