An Ethiopian Airlines plane flying from Addis Ababa to Rome landed safely in Geneva Monday morning after a hijack attempt, police in Geneva said. The hijacker, who police say was the plane's Ethiopian co-pilot, was arrested after exiting the cockpit window using a rope.
In a statement, the airline said that the passengers and crew were safe, and that no one was injured in the incident.
Ethiopian Airlines said that the flight was "on scheduled service departing from Addis Ababa at 00:30 (local time) scheduled to arrive in Rome at 04:40 (local time) was forced to proceed to Geneva airport. Accordingly, the flight has landed safely at Geneva airport. All passengers and crew are safe at Geneva airport.” There were some 200 passengers on the plane, the airline said.
The plane was hijacked as it was flying over Sudan. It's not clear if Geneva was the first choice of destination for the hijackers. Geneva airport was closed after the plane landed at about 6 AM local time.
After initial confusion over the hijacker's motives, police have confirmed that he was seeking asylum in Europe, after feeling his life was at threat back home.
"His act has been motivated by the fact that he feels threatened in his county and wants to make an asylum claim in Switzerland," said Swiss police spokesman Philippe Grangean.