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Rothwell (2016) argues that aircraft hijackings have always remained a major problem in different parts of the world. This criminal act is known to cause panic, anxiety, and even death (Rothwell 2016). More often than not, hijackers target aircraft to pass across their messages or achieve their gains. Stringent security measures should be undertaken in cases of aircraft hijacking are to be reduced. On 29th March 2016, one of EgyptAir’s planes was hijacked by a passenger thus causing panic (Ali 2016). The hijacked plane, Flight MS181, was diverted by the hijacker to Cyprus. The incident did not result in any casualty. The passengers escaped from the hijacked plane unhurt. This essay gives an analysis of the incident and its impacts on the airline industry.
The Nature of the Problem and How It Happened
Immediately after departing from the Borg El Arab Airport in Alexandria, one of the passengers hijacked Flight MS181. The passenger, an Egyptian citizen, claimed to ‘have an explosive belt’ (Ali 2016, para. 2). The passenger then demanded to be taken to Cyprus. The pilot of the hijacked plane decided to land at Cyprus’ Larnaca International Airport. This incident led to the sudden closure of the airport. It later emerged that the hijacker wanted to communicate with his spouse living in Cyprus.
The Egyptian hijacker also ‘wanted to be given asylum in Cyprus’ (Malm & Hunter 2016, para. 4). News reports also indicated that the hijacker wanted every woman in the country’s prisons to be set free. Several negotiators were involved throughout the event to secure the lives of the 56 passengers in the hijacked aircraft. As well, the flight had a crew of seven people (Malm & Hunter 2016). Investigators later indicated that ‘the hijacker did not have any explosive belt’ (Ali 2016, para. 3). Experts indicated that the non-explosive belt had cell-phone devices. None of the individuals in the craft was harmed (Walker 2016). This problem shows clearly that the hijacker used desperate means in an attempt to communicate with his estranged wife (Malm & Hunter 2016).
What Was the Failure and where was it?
Experts in aircraft hijacking have examined the nature of this incident from different perspectives. To begin with, Flight MS181 was supposed to fly from Alexandria to Cairo International Airport (Walker 2016). This means that the aircraft was on a domestic route. The security officials at the Borg El Arab Airport might have failed to undertake appropriate measures to examine every passenger (Malm & Hunter 2016). The security officials might have relaxed simply because it was a domestic flight. Scholars and specialists have also argued that ‘many airports do not promote the most desirable security measures’ (Walker 2016, para. 8).
This kind of failure is critical and can affect the success of the industry. Similar malpractices can also jeopardize the success of the global airline sector. The event became a wakeup call for many stakeholders in the global aviation industry. The industrial players realized that the issue of security was still a major concern. This is true because the Egyptian hijacker must have been aware of the loopholes affecting Egypt’s airline industry. He used these weaknesses to pursue his malicious goals. The hijacking of Flight MS181, therefore, exposed most of the weaknesses and gaps affecting the country’s airline industry (Ali 2016).
Some analysts also believe strongly that the airport should have embraced the use of modern technologies such as CCTV cameras, scanners, and imaging devices. Such technologies would have made it easier to detect different unfamiliar objects possessed by the passengers. The approach would have detected the mobile phones carried by the hijacker. As well, strict regulations should be used to dictate the number of mobile phones carried by every passenger (Walker 2016).
Impacts on the Airline and the Global Aviation Industry
This hijacking incident shocked many people across the globe. The incident forced many people to reexamine the nature and history of hijacking. It has emerged that people from different backgrounds can hijack planes for their gains. Such acts threaten the freedoms, rights, and lives of many people across the globe (Rothwell 2016). Investigators also indicated that ‘the hijacker was a regular Egyptian citizen who did not seem to pose any threat’ (Ali 2016, para. 5).
This understanding shows how the hijacking event exposed the malpractices and inefficiencies associated with the country’s airline industry. The airline company lost its prestige as one of the safest and largest in Africa. As a result, more foreign passengers were not willing to use the services provided by the company (Walker 2016). Many foreign passengers believe strongly that the airline has become insecure. Experts believe that future passengers might consider other airline companies that have implemented adequate security measures. Although the government has released reports highlighting the major improvements undertaken by EgyptAir, many people are still skeptical and unwilling to use its services.
This event also exposed the major challenges affecting the global airline industry. Malm and Hunter (2016) believe that the hijacking event forced many people across the globe to reexamine the issue of terrorism. During the event, the hijacker failed to release several passengers from different Western countries. This issue ‘portrayed the existing relationships between the West and the Arab world’ (Rothwell 2016, para. 8). That being the case, more passengers from different western nations will continue to avoid using specific airline companies from the Arab world. Consequently, this decision will have detrimental implications for the global aviation industry.
The issue of insecurity has emerged especially after this hijacking event. Experts argued that the hijacking incident encouraged more people to think about the events of September 11 (Rothwell 2016). September 11 attacks left many people dead and changed the way many people understood the issue of terrorism. Terrorism has continued to be a major threat in different parts of the world. The airline industry has always been a major target because it transports many people from different nations and cultural backgrounds. Terrorists usually target individuals from different western nations (Walker 2016). This is the case because such “western nations have been at war with different terrorist groups across the globe” (Rothwell 2016, para. 13). This issue should, therefore, be analyzed to protect the aviation industry.
The aviation industry supports the economy of every nation. Global trade and human interaction have been made possible by this industry. However, hijackers and terrorists pose a major threat to this industry. The hijacking of Flight MS181 should encourage more actors to analyze how the practice affects the success of the industry (Malm & Hunter 2016). Passengers who have no trust with a specific airline company will avoid it and eventually affect its performance (Rothwell 2016). New measures such as improved security checks are needed to safeguard the life of every passenger. This move will play a positive role in promoting the integrity of the global aviation industry.
Egypt’s Safety Reputation
Egypt has remained a central destination for many international companies and citizens. This is the case because of its strategic position and the presence of the Suez Canal. The country is known to link different regions in terms of trade and tourism. Unfortunately, the last decade has been characterized by civil unrest. The country has encountered numerous political, economic, and social challenges thus affecting its economic performance. Many leaders have also ‘voiced their concerns regarding the safety of Egypt as a tourist destination’ (Ginat 2013, p. 48). The incident is something that has stained the country’s security reputation.
The event has shown clearly that the country might not have recovered fully from its civil unrest. Some gaps and malpractices are making many people vulnerable to terrorism. The country’s proximity to the Arab world has also forced many people to question its safety and security strengths (Ginat 2013). Some western nations have advised their citizens to avoid specific countries in the Arab world including Egypt. These decisions explain why the country’s safety reputation has declined significantly.
The government of Egypt should, therefore, undertake new measures to protect the lives of every person in the country. Appropriate and sustainable measures should be undertaken to protect people in different cities, airports, and institutions (Sharp 2009). The country should also learn new lessons from what has happened in Paris and Brussels within the past few months. Egypt’s airports should also be equipped with modern technologies to restore the image of its airline industry. These measures will also improve the country’s reputation in terms of security and safety.
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List of References
Ali, N 2016, ‘EgyptAir Plane Hijacked in Blow to Struggling Egypt Tourism’, The Bloomberg. Web.
Ginat, R 2013, Egypt’s Incomplete Revolution, Routledge, New York. Web.
Malm, S & Hunter, I 2016, ‘Plane hijacker gives himself up as he is surrounded by snipers’, The Daily Mail. Web.
Rothwell, J 2016, ‘EgyptAir hijacked plane: Suspected arrested after being branded an ‘idiot’ by Egyptian minister’, The Telegraph. Web.
Sharp, J 2009, ‘Egypt: Background and U. S. Relations’, Congressional Research Service, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-43. Web.
Walker, P 2016, ‘EgyptAir hijacker’s ‘suicide belt’ a fake, say Cyprus officials – as it happened’, The Guardian. Web.