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Wed 13 Jan 2010 08:23 AM

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Saudi man arrested in Manila for posing as pilot

19-year-old wandered round restricted area dressed as Saudia Airlines pilot.

A 19-year-old Saudi Arabian man dressed as a pilot was arrested at Manila airport on Tuesday for entering a restricted area, officials said.

Wearing a pilot’s uniform from Saudia Airlines, Hani Abdulelah Bukhari was able to pass through security to spend several hours wandering around a restricted area.

Security staff became suspicious as he approached an immigration line, and asked to see his pilot’s identification.

"He was able to elude our security by misrepresenting himself as a pilot of Saudia," airport general manager Alfonso Cusi, told AFP news agency.

Bukhari told airport officials he was waiting to meet his father, a retired Saudia pilot who arrived later on a flight from the kingdom.

"There was a failure on our part here," Cusi told the news agency. "Our fault here is we were not able to check properly his identification.

"Definitely, there will be changes" in airport security procedures, he said.

The security breach comes just weeks after airports around the world increased security following a failed attempt to blow up a US-bound plane on Christmas Day.

Bukhari is facing charges of misrepresentation and will be deported, Cusi told the Associated Press news agency.

“It’s a mistake ... but not my mistake,” Bukhari told ABS-CBN television. “The guards allowed me to enter.”

The teen told investigators he had enrolled in a school for flight dispatchers, but he is said not to be holding a student visa.

Bukhari arrived in Manila in November, but with his status unknown, investigators are working to find out more about him.

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