The suspects said they were transporting the snakes to be sold to collectors in the UAE [GALLO/GETTY]

Two Kuwaitis have been arrested in Indonesia for attempting to smuggle 40 pythons on board an aircraft in their luggage, airport officials say.

Yaqub Ebrahim and Ali Hasan, the suspects, were caught on Friday at Jakarta's international airport as they attempted to carry the sedated serpents on board an Emirates Airline flight from Jakarta to Dubai.

"From many foiled cases, people often use the flights to Dubai to smuggle illegal animals," Salahudin Rafi, operational and technical director at airport operator Angkasa Pura II, said in an emailed statement to the AFP news agency.

He said the suspects usually sedate the animals so officers could not detect them. The two men were attempting to enter the departure area, but airport X-ray machines showed that their bags were filled with snakes.

"For the sake of flight safety and security, no animals are allowed to be brought onto aircraft without permission and special handling. Especially pythons, which are considered as wild animals," Rafi said.

The two suspects were questioned by airport authorities and the pythons were taken to the animal quarantine centre at the airport.

The men told investigators that they planned to sell the pythons to collectors in the United Arab Emirates. If charged with attempting to carry wild animals on board the plane, they could face up to seven years in jail and a $32,000 fine.

In December, police at Abu Dhabi's airport stopped a passenger who passed through an Indonesian airport carrying a box containing four snakes, two parrots and a squirrel.

Source: Agencies