Man who hijacked EgyptAir flight in custody after hostage situation

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CYPRUS -- The EgyptAir hijacker is in the custody of authorities in Cyprus, said Homer Mavrommatis, director of the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Crisis Management Center.

The man hijacked the EgyptAir flight over his ex-wife, officials said Tuesday.

Authorities identified the hijacker as Seif El Din Mustafa, Egyptian presidential spokesman Alaa Yousuf told CNN.

A spokesman for the Cyprus Ministry of Transport said the incident is not related to terrorism, but rather the hijacker's ex-wife.

EgyptAir Flight MS181, en route from Alexandria, Egypt, to Cairo, was forced to land at Larnaca airport in Cyprus.

Pilot Omar El Gamal reported a threat from a passenger claiming to have an explosive belt, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said.

Aviation Ministry spokesman Ehab Raslan said he doesn't think the hijacker actually has explosives.

"I doubt that he had explosives because security has been heightened across all Egyptian airports. But we will be able to confirm later," Raslan said.

'Old-fashioned terrorism'

The hijacking is "a more old-fashioned type of terrorism," according to one analyst.

"It is rare these days to have these kinds of negotiations to be taking place," Sajjan Gohel, Asia-Pacific Foundation London, said.

Analyst Geoffrey Thomas from told CNN it was unclear whether the claim of an explosive device was real, "but if it is, how on earth did he get it on board?"

All flights into Larnaca airport are being diverted to Paphos airport on the southwest coast of the island, a spokesperson for the Cyprus Civil aviation authority tells CNN.

Passengers released

Negotiations with the hijacker resulted in the release of all passengers, a statement from the Egyptian ministry of civil aviation said.

Scores on board

The Airbus 320 EgyptAir flight, designated MS181, had at least 81 people on board, according to the ministry, before the majority of passengers were deplaned.

Tom Ballentyne, chief correspondent for Oriental Aviation, tells CNN that airline protocol would have taken this scenario into account.

"Pilots will have a special signal they can use to airport traffic control, it might be a code word or a signal they can use that will alert air traffic control that there is problem," he says.

"Pilots are instructed not to open the cockpit, so what we don't know is how he got into the cockpit"

Questionable air security

"This is different to issues of airport security that we have seen recently" the Asia-Pacific Foundation London's Gohel said.

The hijacking comes months after a Russian Metrojet passenger plane was downed over Egypt's Sinai desert. While Russian authorities insisted the plane crash was the result of terrorism, one U.S. official said it was "99.9% certain" the cause. Another said it was "likely."

"Ever since the Metrojet plane was blown up it has been confirmed that there are lapses in Egyptian security," Gohel added.

Egypt was insisting that airports were safe, and that tourists should come back. But this is going to raise a lot of questions about just how safe the country, and its air travel is, CNN's Ian Lee says.

Questions about the amount of security at the airports, have been raised, but the quality of the security.

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