Aer Lingus Flight 164

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Aer Lingus flight 164
Hijacking summary
Date 2 May 1981 (1981-05-02)
Summary Hijacking
Site London Heathrow Airport
Passengers 103 (including 1 Hijacker)
Crew 5
Fatalities 0
Survivors 108
Aircraft type Boeing 737–200
Operator Aer Lingus
Flight origin Dublin Airport
Destination London Heathrow Airport

Aer Lingus flight EI 164 was a scheduled Boeing 737 passenger flight, from Dublin Airport in Ireland to London Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom, which was hijacked on 2 May 1981.

While on approach to Heathrow, with about five minutes before the flight was due to land, Laurence James Downey, a 55-year-old Australian, went into the toilet and doused himself in petrol before going to the cockpit with a cigarette lighter in hand. He initially demanded to be taken to Iran; when told there was insufficient fuel he specified France. The plane landed at Le Touquet – Côte d'Opale Airport and negotiators began discussions with Downey. He demanded that Pope John Paul II make public the Third Secret of Fatima.[1] After nearly 10 hours of standoff, French special forces stormed the plane and apprehended Downey. No shots were fired and nobody was injured. In February 1983, Downey was sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment for air piracy.[2] He was a former Trappist monk[2] who had spent time in the Soviet Union and espoused a variety of fringe theories[citation needed].


  1. ^ "Scannal – Aer Lingus Hijack". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Hijacker sentenced". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 August 2010.