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Swiss Air Force wasn’t clocked in for hijacked plane; French, Italian escorts scrambled

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

French and Italian aircraft had to be scrambled in response to a hijacked plane in Swiss airspace on Tuesday. The reason: The emergency took place outside the Swiss Air Force's office hours for intervention.

French Mirage 2000s escorted the Boeing 767 Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise flight, which originated from Addis Ababa to Geneva; 202 passengers were on board. Swiss airspace is monitored around the clock, but its fighters only intervene after 8 a.m. — the hijacking occurred shortly after 6 a.m.

"You have a budget, and you have to prioritize," said Swiss Air Force spokesman Juerg Nussbaum, Bloomberg News reported.

The event isn't new to the Swiss Air Force, either. Austrian aircraft were called upon to help out during the World Economic Forum 2014 in Davos in January and during the European Football Championship in 2008, Bloomberg News said.

The Ethiopian co-pilot faces as many as 20 years in prison if he is denied asylum and convicted of the crime, Bloomberg News reported.

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