Robert Dominic Ventre II
Staff WriterEthiopian Airlines flight 702, which took off from Addis Ababa, was set to arrive in Rome at 4:40 AM, local time, but its flightpath was altered when the plane's co-pilot locked himself in the cockpit and changed its course to Geneva, Switzerland. When his fellow pilot left to use the restroom, the as-of-now unnamed hijacker sealed himself into the cockpit before diverting the plane towards Switzerland, where he proceeded to circle over Geneva while his plane broadcasted a 7500 alert call – airline distress code for a hijacking situation. After running low on fuel, the plane was forced to land at Geneva airport at 6:10 AM, local time, where the hijacker was apprehended and all staff and passengers on the flight were confirmed to be safe. press release by Ethiopian Airlines which has since been deleted confirmed the circumstances of the ordeal, stating: “Ethiopian Airlines flight 702 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,” It went on to clarify what limited details had been made available regarding the hijacking and its outcome: “Accordingly, the flight has landed safely at Geneva Airport. All passengers and crew are safe at Geneva Airport.” Those who had been present on board were guaranteed to be redirected to their intended destination(s), “Ethiopian Airlines is making immediate arrangements to fly its esteemed customers on-board the flight to their intended destinations." The man was detained after being forced to bring flight 702 down in Geneva, exiting via a rope fed from the plane's window before turning himself into the authorities. Chief executive of Geneva Airport, Robert Deillon, stated that hijacker's primary motivation was wanting “asylum in Switzerland...” Despite his actions, it was the hijacker himself who had activated the distress call, while the passengers on the flight were reportedly unaware that a hijacking had taken place. Geneva prosecutor Olivier Jornot has since stated that federal authorities were conducting an investigation and would likely press charges that could carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Though Geneva airport had closed to other incoming flights due to the crisis, operations resumed as normal roughly two hours after the plane landed and its hijacker was detained.
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