GENEVA, Switzerland – The Geneva airport temporarily closed this morning after Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-702 to Italy was hijacked and forced to land in Switzerland. Police confirmed at a press conference this morning that the co-pilot hijacked the plane and demanded asylum.
Alejandro Palma, a self-described Lausanne social media specialist posted in his Twitter account what is said to be the exchange between the co-pilot who hijacked the plane and the Geneva airport control tower. The suspect does not seem desperate and calmly asks whether or not he can request asylum in Geneva or at least “the assurance that will not be handed over to the Ethiopian government.”
Geneva’s prosecutor Olivier Jornot said this morning this is the most serious “violation to Swiss law” and could cost the alleged hijacker up to 20 years in jail. This is the first time in 30 years that a hijacked plane has landed in Geneva. All passengers and crew are said to be safe. SkyNews reporter Harriet Hadfield quickly broadcast the news worldwide and posted a photo of the plane as it was removed from the runway.
Flights in and out of the airport were halted until about 8:40.
SkyNews reported that the plane had only 20 minutes of fuel when it landed. The UK TV network also posted video of the passengers leaving the plane after the alleged hijacker surrendered. Passengers and crew had to wait not only for the suspect to be taken into custody, but also for the airport to open before they were allowed to leave the plane.