Top 10 Most Dangerous Air Hijackings in the World

In the latter half of the 20th century, terrorists from around the world pulled off a number of air hijackings. Most of these airplane hijackings were aimed at forcing the government of a particular country to give into the demands of the terrorist group responsible for hijacking the plane.

Incidentally, a number of hijackings resulted in airplanes being blown up. Almost all passengers and crew members on-board these airplanes lost their lives. Furthermore, a number of airplane hijackings were so daring that the ingenuity of the terrorists left the world in a state of shock.


  • 1

    El Al Flight 426:

    In 1968, El Al Flight 426 was hijacked after leaving from London for Rome.  Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine took responsibility for this hijacking. The terrorist group landed the flight on an airstrip in Algiers and after 40 days of continuous negotiations, the terrorists finally released the flight.

  • 2

    Dawson’s Field Hijackings:

    Dawson’s Field Hijackings were another desperate move from the terrorist group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Their demand was for the release of Patrick Arguello and Leila Khalid; two individuals who were caught while attempting to hijack El Al Flight 219. A total of four airplanes were hijacked in Dawson’s Field Hijackings. Both Arguello and Khalid were released after empty aircrafts were blown up by members of the PFLP.

  • 3

    Air France Flight 139:

    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and German Revolutionary Cells were the terrorist groups behind the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 in 1976. The flight was hijacked on its way to Paris from Athens, and was forced to land in Uganda. The hijacking was aimed at the release of 40 Palestinians detained in Israel.

  • 4

    Lufthansa Flight 181:

    In 1977, four Commando Martyr Halime members hijacked Lufthansa Flight 181. The flight was directed to Cyprus, Bahrain, Dubai and Aden after which it was raided, resulting in the death of two hijackers. Fortunately, all of the 84 passengers and 5 crew members remained safe.

  • 5

    Malaysian Airlines Flight 653:

    In 1997, right after the Malaysian Airlines Flight 653 took off from Penang, it was hijacked and redirected to Singapore. Unfortunately, the flight crashed in Kampong Ladang, Tanjong Kupang because communication between the Air Safety personnel and crew members was abruptly lost. The Japanese Red Army was blamed for this crash, which resulted in the deaths of more than 90 people on board the flight.

  • 6

    Air India Flight 182:

    In 1985, Air India Flight 182 was hijacked after it took off from Canada for India. The flight blew up without notice over the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in the deaths of the 329 people on board the flight. For 20 years, no one took responsibility for this hijacking. Recently, in 2005, it was claimed that a Sikh Group residing in Canada was responsible for the 1985 Air India Flight 182 hijacking and crash.

  • 7

    Egypt Air Flight 648:

    In 1985, three members of the Abu Nidal organisation hijacked Egypt Air Flight 648 after it took off from Athens for Cairo. It became imperative to land the flight in Malta after the fuselage of the plane was punctured as a result of bullet shots between security personnel and the hijackers. Security forces tried to take back control of the airplane after it landed in Malta, resulting in the deaths of 60 people on board the airplane.

  • 8

    Pan Am Flight 73:

    Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked in 1986 by member of the Abu Nidal Organization only moments before it took off from Karachi, Pakistan, for Frankfurt, Germany. Fortunately, the crew members were able to ground the flight just in time. When negotiations failed, a hostage on board the flight was killed. At this point, the flight was raided by security forces. 20 more lives were lost before the airplane could be liberated from the terrorists.

  • 9

    Iraqi Airways Flight 163:

    In 1986, Hezbollah hijacked Iraqi Airways Flight 163 after it took off from Baghdad for Amman. 90 passengers and 15 crew members were taken hostage as a result of the hijacking. The hijackers proved adamant and blew up parts of the airplane. As a result, the flight crashed near Arar, Saudi Arabia.

  • 10

    Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961:

    In 1996, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was hijacked by three Ethiopian citizens. Ransom was the only demand of the hijackers. The hijackers refused to allow an emergency landing after fuel levels dropped in the airplane. Soon, there was no fuel left to power the engines and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 went crashing into the Indian Ocean. Only a handful of passengers on board the flight could be rescued after the crash.

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