The course of true love, as William Shakespeare observed, never did run smooth.
However, even the most imaginative of dramatists would balk at a plot line of a star-crossed lover so desperate to get a message to his lost love that he would hijack an aircraft and toss a hopeful letter of reconciliation to his inamorata onto the tarmac.
Yet this was the extraordinary situation that unfolded this morning on the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus after an EgyptAir plane, carrying 82 passengers that included 10 U.S. citizens, was seized by a man who claimed to be armed with a bomb, en route from Alexandria to Cairo.
Given the febrile security atmosphere in Europe right now, the immediate response was one of high alarm. It was assumed the plane had been seized by ISIS terrorists and fighter jets were scrambled across Europe.
However, the drama quickly turned to farce as it emerged that the hijacker wanted above all to get a letter to his Cypriot ex-wife, which he tossed out of the cabin onto the tarmac.
Had he never heard of airmail?
“It’s all to do with a woman,” said Cyrpus President Nikos Anastasiades. “We are doing everything to release the hostages.”
The hijacker allowed almost all the passengers to be released within hours of landing.
The hijacker’s ex-wife was duly contacted and made her way to the airport where she tried to talk some sense into her fiery ex.
In a statement on Twitter, EgyptAir said there had been a threat from a passenger claiming to be armed with an explosive belt.
However, officials at Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs told reporters, “He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot.”
Shortly before 8 a.m. EST (3 p.m. local time) the siege was declared over as the final hostages were released and the hijacker arrested.
Maybe flowers next time?