By Michael Hiltzik
(Los Angeles Times) Today’s hijacking to Geneva of a Rome-bound Ethiopian Airlines jetliner brought back memories for us–not of hijackings of the past, but of this exceptional airline, which we flew all over Africa, often in in rather singular conditions, during the 1980s and early 1990s.
To get the most urgent news out of the way first, today’s incident was resolved without injuries to any of the 202 passengers and crew about the Boeing 767. Reports are that a co-pilot locked his colleague out of the cockpit when the pilot took a bathroom break after the plane departed Addis Ababa. The hijacker sought asylum in Switzerland. He surrendered upon landing and is now in custody.
Africa hands (we served The Times out of Nairobi, Kenya, from 1988 through 1992) think fondly of Ethiopia Airlines as the best African airline, by a wide margin–in fact, better than many Western carriers we can board at LAX. Its customer service reps and cabin crews were unfailingly pleasant and, more important, its fleet and maintenance standards met first-world standards. Read more on Los Angeles…