Ethiopian airlines

Ethiopian Airlines hijacking: co-pilot seeks Swiss asylum

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Ethiopian Airlines plane was hijacked by its co-pilot this morning on-route from Addis Ababa to Rome. The pilot changed the flight route and landed the aircraft in Geneva, Switzerland instead of flying to Rome – the scheduled destination of the flight. Before the hijacker safely landed the aircraft at Geneva Airport, radio communication revealed that he requested political asylum. State authorities have placed the co-pilot in custody.

According to reports, the pilot or pilots of flight ET-702 sent out the emergency frequency 7500 which in industry terms refers to an airplane being hijacked. The recordings made of the radio communication show that the hijacker's intention weren't terrorist in nature, but that he was seeking asylum. The man hijacked the plane and changed its trajectory when the captain went to take a bathroom break.

Geneva Airport closed as a result of hijacking

After the aircraft circled over Geneva for some time waiting for permission to land, the plane finally landed at 6:05. No one was hurt. The plane was escorted by military jets while the aircraft was in Swiss air space. After the plane's arrival, ground forces surrounded the aircraft and instructed the cabin crew to leave the plane with their hands in the air. Everyone but the hijacker was taken to the terminal, where special assistance was offered. The co-pilot, who carries Ethiopian nationality and was born in 1983, then climbed out the cockpit window in order to surrender himself. According to sources, the co-pilot decided to seek asylum because he "felt threatened in his country and [wanted] to seek asylum in Switzerland".

Police spokesman Eric Grandjean said that upon arriving at Geneva Airport, passengers received medical and psychological support by ground specialists. He added: "Everybody was safe from beginning to end — no problem". Geneva Airport was closed for several hours after the incident, leading to flights being diverted. The airport is now fully operational again.

Written by: Team