EgyptAir Flight 181

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EgyptAir Flight 181
EgyptAir A320 SU-GCB (4509539248).jpg
SU-GCB, the aircraft involved in the incident, 2010
Date29 March 2016 (2016-03-29)
SiteLarnaca International Airport, Larnaca, Cyprus
Aircraft typeAirbus A320-233
IATA flight No.MS181
ICAO flight No.MSR181
Call signEGYPTAIR 181
Flight originBorg El Arab Airport, Alexandria, Egypt
DestinationCairo International Airport, Cairo, Egypt
Survivors63 (all)

On 29 March 2016, EgyptAir Flight 181 was a domestic passenger flight from Borg El Arab Airport in Alexandria, Egypt, to Cairo International Airport, was hijacked by an Egyptian man, forcing it to divert to Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus. Shortly after landing, most passengers and crew were released by the hijacker. The hijacker, who claimed that he wore an explosive belt, surrendered about seven hours later, and everybody escaped from the aircraft unharmed. The belt was later revealed to have contained mobile phones and no explosives. The aircraft involved in the incident was an EgyptAir Airbus A320-200.[1][2][3][4]


Flight 181 departed Borg El Arab Airport in Alexandria at 06:38 local time (UTC+2) for a short flight to Cairo International Airport, carrying 56 passengers plus seven crew.[5][6][7] After takeoff, the captain was informed that a passenger claiming to be wearing an explosive belt was demanding that the aircraft be flown to Cyprus.[7][8] A passenger later reported that, during the flight, the flight attendants collected the passengers' passports, which was unusual for a domestic flight but common during a hijacking. The plane then started gaining altitude, and it was announced that they were diverting to Larnaca.[9] The aircraft safely landed at Larnaca International Airport at 08:46 local time (UTC+3), and stopped in a remote parking area. The airport was then closed to all incoming and outgoing traffic.[10][6]


After landing at Larnaca, negotiations began and everyone on board was freed except three passengers and four crew.[11] The hijacker later demanded to see his estranged wife, living in Cyprus, and sought asylum in the country.[12][10][13] He also gave police a letter addressed to his former wife.[1] Cypriot state media said that the hijacker wanted the release of female prisoners in Egypt,[14][15] and, according to Egyptian officials, he had been asking to speak to European Union officials.[16]

Seven more people later exited the plane via the stairs, and a crew member climbed down from a cockpit window.[17] At 14:41 local time, the Cypriot foreign ministry tweeted that the hijacking was over, and the hijacker had been arrested.[18] None of the passengers or crew were harmed. In an earlier tweet, the ministry identified the hijacker as Seif Eldin Mustafa, an Egyptian national.[19][20]

Later in the day, a photo was circulated of a passenger seen smiling beside Mustafa, whose supposed explosive belt was visible underneath his coat.[21] The passenger was later identified as Ben Innes, and the photo went viral.[22][23] A security expert described Innes's actions as irresponsible and one University of Cambridge psychologist said Innes might have been driven by "pure narcissism", explaining that social media lacks the checks and balances of older forms of communication.[24]

As a result of security concerns, officials at Cairo International Airport delayed the departure of a flight bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.[25]

Passengers and crew[edit]

There were six Egyptian crew members and one Egyptian security official aboard Flight 181.[8] Of the 56 passengers, 30 were Egyptian, 14 were European, and 8 were from the United States.[8]


The aircraft involved was an Airbus A320-233 registered as SU-GCB, MSN 2079. Its first flight was on 8 July 2003, it was delivered to EgyptAir on 31 October 2003 and was twelve years old at the time of the hijacking.[26]


After being detained, Seif Eldin Mustafa was held in custody in Cyprus. The government of Egypt and Cyprus stated their intentions for him to be extradited for prosecution in Egypt. A legal process took place in Cyprus as a court order is required for extradition. An original verdict in support of extradition was appealed by Mustafa, on the grounds of human rights risks in Egypt.[27]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Smith, Helena (30 March 2016). "Cyprus denies Egyptian claim it has requested handover of hijacker". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  2. ^ "EgyptAir hijack: Suicide belt worn by the hijacker was fake | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  3. ^ "EGYPTAIR FLIGHT MS181" (Press release). EGYPTAIR. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  4. ^ Egypt Air [@EGYPTAIR] (29 March 2016). "All hostages released" صرح مصدر مسئول بمصر للطيران أنه تم الأفراج عن جميع الرهائن والقبض على المختطف، هذا وسوف نوافيكم بآخر المستجدات أول بأول. [Official sources at EGYPTAIR declared the release of all the hostages and the arrest of the hijacker.] (Tweet) (in Arabic). Retrieved 29 March 2016 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ "MS181 Flight, EgyptAir, Alexandria to Cairo". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b "MS181 Flight Status". Flightradar24.
  7. ^ a b "Egypt Air Domestic Flight Hijacked, Lands in Cyprus". Bloomberg Business. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b c "EgyptAir hijack: Man surrenders at Larnaca airport". BBC News. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  9. ^ Rothwell, James (29 March 2016). "EgyptAir hijacked plane: Man 'demands to have letter sent to his ex-wife' after taking passengers hostage". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Egypt plane hijacked – latest". BBC News. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  11. ^ Reuters: EgyptAir hijack ends with passengers freed
  12. ^ R.W. (30 March 2016). "The Economist explains: Why hijackings are no longer common". The Economist. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  13. ^ "'Hijacked plane with suspected bomb lands in Cyprus". ITV. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  14. ^ @SkyNewsBreak (29 March 2016). "Cypriot state broadcaster has reported #Egyptair flight #MS181 hijacker is asking for the release of prisoners in Egypt" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Hijacked Plane: Foreign Hostages Held on Jet". Sky News. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  16. ^ "Sky News Live". 29 March 2016. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  17. ^ "EgyptAir plane hijacker arrested at Cyprus airport". The Guardian. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  18. ^ @CyprusMFA (29 March 2016). "Its over. The #hijacker arrested. #LarnacaAirport # Egyptair" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ Thompson, Nick (29 March 2016). "Hijacked EgyptAir flight MS181: Live updates". CNN. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  20. ^ STRATFOR: Behind the Scenes of an Aircraft Hijacking
  21. ^ Booth, Robert (29 March 2016). "Images allegedly show EgyptAir hijacker posing for selfies with 'bomb'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Why did British man snap a selfie with a hijacker?". London: CBS News. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  23. ^ Readhead, Harry (31 March 2016). "The hijack 'selfie' guy has become a meme". Metro International. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  24. ^ Adam Withnall (30 March 2016). "EgyptAir 'selfie' Briton Ben Innes took inappropriate photo with hijacker due to 'pure narcissism'". The Independent.
  25. ^ Michael Georgy (29 March 2016). "Cairo airport delays departure of New York-bound Egyptair flight – security sources". Reuters. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  26. ^ "Egyptair SU-GCB (Airbus A320 – MSN 2079)". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  27. ^ Mark, Philip (4 November 2016). "Egyptair hijacker to appeal extradition". Cyprus Mail. Retrieved 26 December 2016.

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