Sunday 19 May 2024

Hijacking of Air New Zealand flight 24

Air New Zealand Flight 24 was hijacked at Nadi International Airport (NAN/NFFN) Fiji, on the 19th of May 1987. The Boeing 747-200, on a scheduled refueling stop from Tokyo Narita (NRT/RJAA) to Auckland (AKL/NZAA), was boarded by a hijacker who took three crew members hostage. He threatened to detonate the aircraft unless the ousted Fijian Prime Minister, Dr. Timoci Bavadra, and his ministers under house arrest were freed. The crew ultimately subdued the hijacker and turned him over to the authorities. There were no casualties, and the plane remained on the tarmac.

Flight TE24, bound for Auckland from Tokyo, was refueling in Nadi when Ahmjed Ali, armed with dynamite from a gold mine, forced his way aboard. Ali, a 37-year-old ethnic Indian and refueler for Air Terminal Services, demanded the release of Dr. Bavadra and his ministers, held by Lt. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka after the 1987 Fijian coups d'├ętat, and requested to be flown to Libya.

The 105 passengers and most crew disembarked, leaving Captain Graham Gleeson, flight engineer Graeme Walsh, and first officer Michael McLeay with Ali. For six hours, Ali negotiated from the cockpit with relatives and Air New Zealand officials. The New Zealand Special Air Service was on alert. At approximately 1 p.m., Walsh incapacitated Ali with a whiskey bottle while he was occupied with the radio, allowing the crew to restrain him.

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