Afriqiyah Airways Flight 209
The aircraft involved in the incident, photographed in 2007
|Date||23 December 2016|
|Site||Malta International Airport, Luqa, Malta|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A320-214|
|IATA flight No.||8U209|
|ICAO flight No.||AAW209|
|Call sign||AFRIQIYAH 209|
|Flight origin||Sabha Airport, Libya|
|Destination||Mitiga International Airport, Libya|
Afriqiyah Airways Flight 209 was a domestic passenger flight from Sabha to Tripoli, Libya that was hijacked on 23 December 2016 and made a forced landing in Luqa, Malta. The flight was operated by Afriqiyah Airways, Libya's state airline, and carried 111 passengers: 82 males, 28 females and one infant. The two hijackers later released all of the hostages and surrendered to the authorities.
The aircraft, carrying seven crew and 111 passengers, had taken off from Sabha International Airport at 08:10 local time and was due to land at Tripoli at 09:20. The two hijackers threatened to blow up the aircraft with hand grenades, according to Malta state television. One hijacker declared himself to be "pro-Gaddafi" and that he would release all passengers, but not the crew, if his unknown demands were accepted. The pilots had tried to land in Libya, but the hijackers refused their request. The aircraft was forced to land at Malta International Airport which it did on 11:32 am local time. The aircraft's engines were still running after it was surrounded by the Maltese military. One hijacker was reported to have appeared at the aircraft door waving a large green flag similar to the Libyan flag under Gaddafi. He then put the flag down and returned inside.
Negotiating teams were placed on standby and Maltese military arrived at Malta International Airport. Upon landing at least 25 passengers were released by the hijackers, while negotiations were held. Following the release of all passengers and crew, the hijackers surrendered to the Maltese authorities and were taken into custody. It was subsequently revealed that the weapons used by the two hijackers, named as Suhah Mussa and Ahmed Ali, were replicas.
On the day of the hijacking, the airport was being used to film scenes for the movie Entebbe, which is about the 1976 hijacking of Air France Flight 139 and Operation Entebbe, which resulted in the release of most of the passengers and the deaths of the hostage takers. Scenes from the hostages exiting the Afriqiyah plane were filmed, edited and inserted in the movie. Producer Melvin Rotherberg has qualified this "real-life event" as a "blessing from the sky on a day of bad acting." Some passengers were subsequently cast as supporting actors in the movie.
|Wikinews has related news: Hijackers divert Libyan passenger jet to Malta|
- "Developing story: Hijacked Libyan plane lands in Malta; hijackers threaten to blow up aircraft". Times of Malta. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- "Libyan plane hijack: Two hijackers 'with grenades threaten to blow up' Afriqiyah Airways flight in Malta". The Daily Telegraph. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- "Hijacking description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- "Libya Malta hijack: First passengers released at airport". BBC News Online. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- "Libyan Afriqiyah Airways plane landed in Malta 'may be hijacked', says Maltese PM". The Independent. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- "Libyan plane hijack ends peacefully in Malta". Al Jazeera. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- "Hijackers release passengers after seizing Libyan Afriqiyah Airways flight". Sky News. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- Nsubuga, Jimmy. "Libyan plane hijackers were carrying fake guns and grenades". Metro. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
- Tamplin, Harley (23 December 2016). "Plane hijacking interrupts film crew shooting fake plane hijacking". Metro. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 24 December 2016.