An Australian teenager who thought it funny to type “I have a bomb” into an Air New Zealand in-flight messaging app has been deported from New Zealand.
The 19-year-old was traveling back to Sydney from Tonga when he typed the comment into the Air New Zealand app.
Airlines take security threats extremely seriously and a TigerAir Australia plane flying from Sydney to Melbourne was forced to return to Sydney in December because of a written note.
The act, described by the teen’s lawyer as the “grossly stupid event of the century”, prompted emergency services at Auckland Airport to scramble as the Airbus A320 on which the teen was traveling was forced to return to the gate.
He appeared in the Manukau District Court on Thursday charged with breaching the Civil Aviation Act by falsely communicating safety information.
New Zealand website Stuff.co.nz reported that the teen, Meke Fifita, faced imprisonment or a fine but was deported after his father paid a $NZ3000 repatriation sum.
His lawyer, Jane Northwood, said she had never seen anyone “more distressed or remorseful and overwhelmed’ and she had arranged for immediate sentencing because of concerns for his safety in jail.
Judge Anna Johns said that Fifita’s actions came at a huge cost to the taxpayer, emergency services and Auckland airport.
“Anyone with half a brain would understand that this is not a funny thing to do, given the times we live in,” Stuff quoted her as saying.
This is the second time Air New Zealand has hit the international headlines recently.
It also made the news after an Air New Zealand flight traveling from Hong Kong to Auckland was forced to divert to Cairns when a passenger died on board.
Local media reported passengers were stuck on the plane for two hours because ground crew were initially unavailable to assist with the removal of the body from the plane