Anti-terror police sealed off the German city's main train station when the attack happened at around 9pm local time (8pm United Kingdom time).
Police spokesman Rainer Kerstiens told The Associated Press that more suspected attackers are believed to be on the run.
Police were still looking for other possible suspects, a spokesman for the German federal police said.
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Footage of the incident showed the man, wearing a hoodie and a baseball cap as he was escorted from the plane by two officers. Officials said there was a dispute between a 66-year-old male passenger and the flight crew over the charge for a blanket.
Twitter user Bruno Macedo tweeted: "Man with axe chased by police in Dusseldorf". The rail station remained shut down, he added.
Terrified passengers have taken to social media to say the situation inside the station "looks bad".
Trains also stopped running to the central station as armed cops flooded the area.
Police confirmed there was an "extensive" operation at the station following reports of "injuries".