Police examine bomb note left at Wellington airport

STACEY WOOD AND DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 10:16 08/12/2011

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Police will forensic test a note claiming a bomb was on board a plane from Wellington to Dunedin which led to an evacuation of Dunedin Airport.

The note was found in the Wellington International Airport bathrooms last night, saying there was a bomb on a flight headed south, Police central communications spokesman Ian Harris said.

The flight was already en-route to Dunedin and arrived at 8.15pm. The airport was evacuated and a cordon around the airport had been set up by 8.30pm.

Police will study CCTV footage to try and find the person responsible who could face charges under the Civil Aviation Act and the Crimes Act.

Acting Wellington Area Commander Detective Inspector Stephen Vaughan said the note was found in the women's toilets near Gate 14 at Wellington Airport about 10 minutes after Flight 459 departed the Capital around 7pm last night.

''I'd prefer not to say the actual words on the note...  but it referred to a bomb on that flight. What was written on that note lead us to believe it related specifically to that flight.''

Police conducted initial inquiries and searched the toilets last night, he said.

''Now the note will be subject to forensic testing and CCTV footage of the airport and its environs will also be conducted.''

A police search of the aircraft involved in the scare has been completed and nothing of interest was found. But that provides cold comfort to the police.

''Certainly notes being left... saying bombs have been left on flights is unusual for Wellington Airport. We are highly concerned about it [and] we treat it very, very seriously.

''With the heightened security environment it is a note we certainly don't want to be seen in our airports.''

Air New Zealand believed the bomb threat was a hoax.

Standard procedure was followed after reports the bomb was on board the plane from Wellington, but the threat was deemed to have no substance, Air New Zealand spokeswoman Tracy Smeaton said.

"No one knows why people do these things because at the end of the day there's no gain and it just causes a lot of disruption and pain to a lot of people," McCall said.

"It not only disrupts people's travel plans...but there are also considerable economic impacts too."

The airport didn't reopen until 10.30pm, two hours after everyone was evacuated, and some people ended up having to change their travel plans, McCall said.

It is understood the flight was NZ459, which was carrying passengers from Auckland and Wellington.

St John South Island region communications and promotions coordinator Alena Lynch said four ambulances had been on standby in Dunedin.

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Wellington International Airport spokeswoman Kat Lintott said no flights had been affected by the incident 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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