Hamburg Airport hostage crisis with young child ends after 18 hours

By Esther Muhozi
On 6 November 2023 at 08:56

On Saturday night, a 35-year-old man breached airport security, driving onto the airport tarmac with his four-year-old daughter in the car. He parked the vehicle beneath an aircraft. Subsequently, he surrendered to the authorities without offering any resistance, leading to his arrest.

According to media reports, the event unfolded around 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT) when the suspect drove his car onto the airport’s apron, the usual parking area for aircraft. The man discharged his weapon into the air and threw incendiary bottles from his vehicle. It remained unclear whether he possessed explosives.

Later, authorities clarified that he stopped his vehicle beneath a commercial flight, which was in the process of preparing for takeoff. All passengers aboard that flight were safely evacuated. Local reports indicate that he parked beneath a Turkish Airlines plane.

"The child appears to be unharmed," confirmed authorities on X (formerly Twitter). This incident resulted in the disruption of multiple flights at the airport, although operations have since resumed, albeit with significant delays.

Numerous passengers awaiting their flights at the airport were accommodated in hotels. According to Hamburg police spokeswoman Sandra Levgruen, the man’s actions stemmed from disagreements with the authorities regarding custody arrangements and his desire to travel to Turkey with his child.

Following the incident, authorities explained that the man was experiencing an "exceptional psychological situation" due to custody disputes with his ex-wife. He had taken their daughter following an argument, prompting the child’s mother to contact emergency services and report a suspected child abduction.

This was not the first time the man, a Turkish citizen, faced accusations of kidnapping his daughter. Last year, he was under investigation for taking the child to Turkey without permission. Subsequently, the mother brought the child back to Germany.

After the hostage situation concluded, Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher expressed his wishes for the well-being of the mother, child, and their family, following this harrowing experience, on X.

The airport announced its commitment to swiftly restore operations. On the scheduled Sunday, a total of 286 flights carrying approximately 34,500 passengers had been planned.