‘Go back or it will be shot down’: Vietnam Airlines flight under threat

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By Doan Loan January 5, 2022 | 06:06 PT

A satellite photo of Vietnam Airlines flight VN5311 landing at Fukuoka Airport after being hijacked by a shoot-down threat while flying to Hanoi, January 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of FlightRadar

A Vietnam Airlines plane flying from Japan’s Narita Airport in Hanoi has been diverted to another Japanese airport after a caller threatened it would be shot down over Tokyo Bay.

At 11:10 a.m., about 40 minutes after the flight took off with 47 passengers, three pilots and 12 attendants on board, the airlines office in Japan received a call from a man who spoke Japanese but claimed to be American.

“Flight VN5311 had better turn back to Narita or it will be shot down over Tokyo Bay,” the anonymous caller threatened.

When the call recipient asked the man to repeat the message, he said, “I’m preparing to shoot VN5311 when it flies over Tokyo Bay. It better turn back.”

The Japanese office called Vietnam Airlines headquarters in Hanoi, which then reported the call to Japanese authorities, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) and an agency of the Ministry of Public Security.

The airline also called an urgent meeting of its emergency and counter-terrorism task force. With the permission of Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh and Transport Minister Nguyen Van The, CAAV ordered Vietnam Airlines to seek permission from Japanese authorities to land the plane at Fukuoka Airport.

The plane landed in Fukuoka safely at 1:02 p.m.

Japanese authorities attended the airport and spoke to flight crew and passengers to assess the situation.

After finding no unusual signs and deeming it safe to proceed, VN5311 was cleared to leave Fukuoka for Hanoi. The plane landed in Hanoi at 6:12 p.m. (Hanoi time).

VN5311 was the first scheduled flight between Vietnam and Japan after a nearly two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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