A New Zealand pilot who’s being held hostage by a insurgent group in Indonesia is known to be a former Jetstar pilot, with a spouse and younger son.
Captain Philip Mark Mehrtens was taken hostage after touchdown at a distant airport on Tuesday in Nduga in Indonesia’s West Papua province, on the island of New Guinea.
He was flying for Indonesian airline Susi Air and had 5 passengers on board, who’re believed to have been freed.
A fellow pilot and former colleague instructed New Zealand information outlet Stuff that Mehrtens, 37, first labored for Susi Air after ending flight faculty however returned to his house nation in 2016.
It is known Mehrtens had grown up in Christchurch and underwent his pilot coaching there, however moved to Auckland together with his spouse and son when he returned to New Zealand in 2016 to fly for Jetstar.
He can also be understood to have moved to Hong Kong in 2019 to fly for Cathay Dragon, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, earlier than it ceased operations in 2020.
The former colleague instructed Stuff that Mehrtens had been flying “dangerous pathways” that used quick runways on steep hills at Susi Air.
“It shows how much of a family person he is, putting himself at risk to earn money to support his family,” the man pilot stated.
“Phil is the nicest guy, he genuinely is – no one ever had anything bad to say about him.”
Susi Air founder and former Indonesian fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti requested for prayers and assist, writing on Twitter that she hoped they’d be capable to choose their pilot up safely.
The West Papuan National Liberation Army claimed duty for the assault on Mehrtens and threatened to kill him if the federal government in Jakarta didn’t recognise the independence of West Papua – which refers back to the western aspect of the island of New Guinea.
“We want to convey that we have taken this pilot hostage and brought it to the TPNPB headquarters which is far from the airfield area,” a spokesman for the group, Sebby Sambom, instructed The Australian in a press release.
“This pilot is a citizen of New Zealand. TPNPB considers New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, America, Europe, all are responsible.
“The US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand has supported the Indonesian government, trained the Indonesian National Police, supplied weapons to kill us West Papuans from 1963 to today. They must be held accountable.”
On Wednesday, a gaggle of building employees had been rescued by Indonesian authorities amid the seek for Mehrtens.
Regional navy commander Brigadier General J.O. Sembiring stated the employees, who got here from different Indonesian islands to construct a well being centre within the space, had been hiding out in a priest’s home since Saturday after the insurgent group threatened to kill them, based on the Associated Press.
When questioned in regards to the hostage scenario in a press convention on Wednesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins stated “consular support is being provided to the family”.
“The New Zealand embassy in Jakarta are leading the New Zealand government’s response on this issue and that’s really all I’m in a position to say publicly about that at the moment,” he stated.