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, about five minutes before the flight was due to land, a 55-year-old Australian named Laurence James Downey went into the toilet and doused himself in petrol. He then went to the cockpit with a cigarette lighter in hand and 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 five years of 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.