0 3 min 10 mths

Police say 45-year-old arrested as scores of flights cancelled or delayed at Sydney airport

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A 45-year-old man has been arrested following a midair incident that caused a Malaysia-bound flight to turn back to Australia and sparked other delays and cancellations at Sydney airport.

Scores of flights out of Sydney airport were affected following the emergency incident on the runway on Monday. Malaysia Airlines flight 122 left Sydney at about 1pm bound for Kuala Lumpur, but turned back due to the passenger and landed at about 3.45pm.

Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Passengers said the plane had been on the runway for more than two hours waiting for emergency services to board, according to social media posts.

While flight attendants remained with the man, other passengers claimed they were moved to a separate part of the plane to wait for emergency services to devise a plan to evacuate the Airbus A330.

At about 5.15pm, the Australian federal police posted on Twitter that its officers were “responding to an emergency incident at Sydney International Airport”.

Passengers posted to social media that they were able to leave the plane after 6pm.

Just before 7pm, the AFP said it had arrested a 45-year-old man without incident.

“The AFP will not divulge operational matters, however, an emergency response plan was enacted and an evacuation was initiated once it was deemed safe for passengers and crew,” it said.

“There is no impending threat to the community. The man is expected to be charged later tonight,” the AFP said.

Sydney airport entered single-runway operations in the afternoon due to the incident, with the plane sitting on the end of one runway away from the terminal and other aircraft.

An airport spokesperson said 32 domestic flights were cancelled as a result of the incident – 16 inbound and 16 outbound services – with delays of up to 90 minutes for other domestic flights.

Disruptions mostly affected domestic flights. No international flights had been cancelled by about 6.45pm.

A Sydney airport spokesperson said it was “supporting emergency agencies in the management of an incident at the airport”.

“The airport is operational with flights arriving and departing. Passengers are encouraged to check directly with their airline regarding the status of their flight,” the spokesperson said.

On Twitter, travellers on other flights into Sydney said their pilot announced a delay due to the security incident closing one runway.