A desperate attempt by a Shanghai teen who hid in the cargo hold aboard an Emirates flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Dubai was arrested at Dubai International Airport.
Emirates airline confirmed on Tuesday that a Chinese national was handed over to authorities after he was discovered hiding in the cargo hold soon after the plane touched down in Dubai.
“Emirates can confirm that on 27 May, a stowaway was found in the cargo hold of flight EK303 from Shanghai to Dubai. We are cooperating fully with authorities in Dubai and as this is a police matter we are unable to comment further at this time,” said an Emirates spokesperson in an email sent to Gulf News on Tuesday.
Gulf News spoke with an official at the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai to confirm Chinese media reports of diplomatic assistance, but no statement was immediately released by press time on Tuesday.
Unlike other incidents of stowaways surviving long flights inside the wheel wells of aircraft with little oxygen and subzero temperatures while flying at great heights, the teen was housed inside the pressurised fuselage of the Emirates aircraft for the 6,453km journey.
An Emirates double-decker Airbus A380-800 aircraft — known for its large cargo hold — is assigned to the Shanghai-Dubai route which is listed as having an eight-hour, 39-minute flight duration.
The boy’s remarkable journey aboard the flight has drawn wide domestic press coverage from his home country in English and Chinese media.
Chinese Radio International (CRI) posted a story and an unconfirmed photo of a 16-year-old Chinese youth with his face blocked out and seated beside a man who appears to be a Dubai police officer.
Citing domestic Chinese media reports, the CRI reported the teen identified as Xu was “charged with illegal entry...he is the first person to arrive in Dubai as a stowaway in a plane’s cargo compartment”.
In an unrelated airline stowaway case in February this year, news agencies reported that civil authorities in Harare, Zimbabwe, discovered a dead stowaway on a US cargo plane after ground crews noticed blood dripping from the fuselage on to the runway.
Authorities said the plane was owned by Florida-based Western Global Airlines and had landed to refuel when the body was found and the plane was impounded.