Ethiopian Airlines Jet Hijacked by its own Co-Pilot
BY JASON CUMMING
A Rome-bound passenger jet was “forced to proceed” to Geneva early Monday when its co-pilot took control of the aircraft while the pilot was in the bathroom, an official said.
Geneva airport chief executive Robert Deillon told reporters that the co-pilot — an Ethiopian man born in 1983 who wanted to seek asylum in Switzerland — locked himself in the cockpit after taking control.
Citing police, Reuters reported that the co-pilot then left the plane through a window on a rope.
Earlier, police told The Assocated Press that Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET-702 made an unscheduled landing in the Swiss city at 6 a.m. local time (midnight ET) and an alleged hijacked was arrested. Police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt added that “the situation is under control” and nobody on the flight was injured.
“All passengers and crew are safe”
The Boeing 767 airliner had issued a coded signal to air traffic controllers to report it had been hijacked, according to monitoring website Flightradar24.
The AP cited Cairo airport officials speaking on condition of anonymity as saying the pilot informed the control tower at Abu Simbel in southern Egypt that the aircraft had been hijacked.
“The flight has landed safely at Geneva Airport,” Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement early Monday. “All passengers and crew are safe.”
Police escorted passengers one by one, their hands over their heads, from the taxied plane to waiting vehicles, according to the AP.
The aircraft had left Addis Ababa at around 12:30 a.m. local time.
According to Reuters, state-run Ethiopian television said there had been 193 passengers on board, including 140 Italian nationals.
The brief drama in Geneva on Monday morning caused the cancellation of some short-haul flights and some incoming flights were diverted to other airports.
Rohit Kachroo and Rebekah Smyth of NBC News, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.