American passenger charged in flight diversion to Vancouver airport
Richmond RCMP charged an American passenger after a United Airlines flight from Anchorage, Alaska to Denver, Colorado was diverted to Vancouver International Airport early Saturday morning due to security concerns.
54-year-old Nicholas Michael Aliksyuk from Duluth, Minnesota has been charged with one count of Uttering Threats to Cause Death or Bodily Harm and one count of Mischief to Property over $5,000. Aliksyuk is in custody and remains in Canada.
“It was a legitimate threat to the flight crew and passengers on board, and being that this flight was not scheduled for a stop in Canada, it was deemed serious enough for the flight crew to have diverted the flight here,” said Richmond RCMP Cpl. Dennis Hwang.
“This appears to be an isolated incident in which security protocols were enacted and the criminal code investigation remains active and ongoing.”
Emergency crews were on hand as the Boeing 737 with 131 passengers and six crew members on board landed safely in Vancouver at around 4:20 a.m.
“We saw all the lights from the fire trucks and the ambulances,” said one passenger to Global News.
“It was still dark and we couldn’t tell what it was. Then we sat there for 30, 40 minutes, and guys came on the plane with full SWAT getup. It was pretty spooky.”
YVR said the incident did not impact airport operations. The passengers were eventually put on an afternoon United flight to resume their trip to Denver.
– With files from The Canadian Press
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