A 22-year-old man was arrested after he told fellow passengers as their S7 jet was preparing for takeoff at the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport that a bomb was hidden on board the aircraft, police said Wednesday.
No bomb was found aboard the Airbus A320.
The plane carrying 111 passengers and seven crew members was taxiing on the runway at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when the unidentified passenger told his seatmates that a bomb had been stowed on board and was timed to explode in two hours, while the plane was in flight, according to transportation police for the Far Eastern Federal District.
Witnesses said the passenger appeared to be drunk.
The plane was flying to Vladivostok and then onward to Novosibirsk.
"A team of investigators was immediately dispatched to the plane, and the passengers were evacuated to the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport," police said in a statement.
Police searched the plane and passengers' baggage with the assistance of bomb-sniffing dogs but found no explosives.
The passengers — minus the man who had reported bomb — re-boarded the plane, and the flight departed at 9:02 p.m., 2 hours and 32 minutes late.
Police said the passengers showed no signs of discontentment or panic over the bomb hoax and delay.
The suspect has been charged with supplying false information about an act of terrorism and, if convicted, could face up to three years in prison and a hefty fine, transportation police spokeswoman Natalya Aberyaseva told Interfax. Apart from footing the bill for costs incurred by various departments at the airport, he would have to pay significant damages to S7.
Police said the passenger was sent to an alcohol and drug treatment center for a medical examination.