Man Hijacks EgyptAir Flight, No Passengers Injured


Mustafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir flight, surrenders himself to police after releasing passengers and crew. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Matthew McFadden, Staff Writer

On March 29, 2016, Seif El Din Mustafa took control of EgyptAir Flight MS181 and changed the aircraft’s course to Cyprus, causing confusion and fears of terrorism when the plane began to fly over the Mediterranean Sea.  However, the plane landed safely, and all passengers and crew were released before officials detained Mustafa.

Mustafa was able to hijack the plane by telling the flight attendants that he was wearing an explosive belt, which was fake.  From there, he forced the Cairo-bound flight to be rerouted to the island of Cyprus, in the Mediterranean Sea.  He instructed flight attendants to begin collecting passports, which caused passengers to worry.

“We’re hijacked.  We are being hijacked,” one flight attendant calmly stated as she collected passports, causing a wave of fear to sweep through the plane.  However, once the aircraft landed, passengers were gradually released unharmed.  Many have praised the flight attendants for their level of calm and professionalism in dealing with the situation.

The director of the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs Crisis Management Center described Mustafa as “unstable,” as he was unable to make up his mind when negotiating with authorities.  Officials believe that the hijacking did not stem from terrorism, but from a conflict with his ex-wife, who lives in Cyprus.  He has also faced past trouble with the law, including burglary and drug dealing, as well as an escape from prison.  However, despite the potentially deadly scenario, none of the passengers or crew were injured, and improvements to overseas airport security are likely to follow.