Hours after a hijacker held passengers hostage on an EgyptAir flight on 29 March, an Egyptian tour company used the hijacking to market its services, in what critics have condemned as an insensitive gesture. Lions Trips posted a status on their official Facebook page urging customers to book a flight with them, adding that it was possible "a hijacker will take you to Cyprus".
Complete with "crying out loud" and "dancing woman" emoticons, the airline said: "Book a flight from us to Hurghada before Thursday April 7 and maybe a hijacker will take you to Cyprus. And who knows, roll the dice and maybe it will be France or Italy."
Several social media users condemned the airline's mockery of the EgyptAir hijacking. One Twitter user said: "Lions trips company needs to be punished over its ad that mocks Egypt aviation company!" Another user said: "Lions Trips exploits to promote flights."
On 29 March, Seif el-Din Mustafa hijacked EgyptAir flight M181, forcing the A320 airliner to divert to Cyprus as it flew from Alexandria to Cairo. Mustafa had claimed that he was wearing a suicide belt shortly after the plane took off from the airport. He was eventually found to be wearing a fake suicide vest and was arrested by police at Larnaca airport in Cyprus.
Mustafa had requested to see his estranged Cypriot wife and requested political asylum along with a final demand to have all female prisoners released from Egyptian prisons. He has been described by Cypriot authorities as "mentally unstable" and was reportedly arrested twice in 2009 and 2010 over forgery and impersonation. Investigations are now ongoing to determine how he bypassed security at the Alexandria airport.