CHIANG MAI: A Canadian national has found himself in police custody after opening an emergency door on a Thai Airways International (THAI) flight bound for Bangkok, triggering the deployment of an inflatable evacuation slide.
The incident occurred as the plane was taxiing to the runway for takeoff at Chiang Mai airport on Wednesday night.
According to witnesses, just moments before the scheduled 9.05pm departure, the 40-year-old man, Wong Sai Heung, rushed to open a front emergency door, automatically triggering the deployment of the exit slide.
The Airbus A320 plane, serving TG121 flight between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, came to a halt. Another passenger and flight attendants successfully subdued the individual, who allegedly insisted that he believed someone was about to attack him.
Passengers had to return to the airport terminal, where they later boarded another plane. The flight departed the northern province at 12.34am.
Police at Bhubingrajanivej station charged the Canadian national with the Chinese origin with posing risks on others and violating the instructions of pilots and flight attendants.
The man confessed to the charges.
Chiang Mai airport general manager Ronnakorn Chalermsanyakorn said on Thursday that technicians of THAI had to cut the deployed slide.
The aircraft was taken to a parking bay, and the blocked runway was reopened at 10.50pm on Wednesday, said Mr Ronnakorn.
The incident affected 2,296 passengers across 13 flights comprising three outgoing flights, eight incoming planes that had to circle around the airport and two flights that were diverted to other airports, he said.
THAI, the national carrier, issued a statement on Thursday morning, saying all passengers and crew members of the affected flight were safe.