07:20 GMT - WELCOME TO AFP’S LIVE REPORT ON THE hijacking of an Egypt Air plane with some 81 passengers on board.
The plane was hijacked while flying from Alexandria to Cairo and diverted to Cyprus where it has landed, triggering a hostage crisis at Larnaca airport.
07:22 GMT - EGYPT AIR HIJACKER THREATENED TO DETONATE EXPLOSIVES BELT: EGYPT CIVIL AVIATION
07:23 GMT - HIJACKER LETS EGYPTIAN PASSENGERS OFF EGYPT AIR PLANE: CYPRUS TV
07:26 GMT - HIJACKER FREES ALL ON BOARD EXCEPT FIVE FOREIGNERS, CREW: EGYPT AIR
07:35 GMT - Media images show passengers disembarking the hijacked plane and boarding a waiting airport bus at the bottom of the stairs.
07:52 GMT - CYPRUS CLOSES LARNACA AIRPORT AFTER HIJACKING, FLIGHTS DIVERTED TO PAPHOS
Egyptian suspected: media
07:58 GMT - Egyptian state media reports an Egyptian national is suspected to be behind the hijacking of EgyptAir flight MS181.
08:00 GMT - EGYPTAIR HIJACKER DEMANDS ASYLUM IN CYPRUS: STATE RADIO
08:02 GMT - Local television footage showed people disembarking from the plane, in what appeared to be a calm and orderly way, and boarding airport buses waiting on the tarmac. Some passengers could be seen carrying hand luggage.
08:04 GMT - State radio has reported that the hijacker is not Egyptian and that he asked for a translator to press his demands.
08:11 GMT - Flight MS181 took off from Alexandria airport at 6:30 am local time (0430 GMT) for a 45 minute flight to Cairo, where it was due to land at 7:30 am. It landed at Cyprus' Larnaca airport at 8:50 am.
Plane cordoned off
08:15 GMT - The plane was cordoned off by armed police and parked on the tarmac away from the terminal building, just 200 metres (yards) from a beach where dozens of foreign tourists were out.
08:20 GMT - Larnaca is no stranger to hostage crises. Several hijacked planes were diverted to the airport in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1988, a Kuwait Airways flight hijacked en route from Bangkok to Kuwait was diverted to Mashhad and later to Larnaca, where hijackers killed two Kuwaiti passengers and dumped their bodies on the tarmac.
In February 1978, an Egyptian commando unit stormed a hijacked Cyprus Airways DC-8 at Larnaca airport, where 15 passengers were being held hostage. Some 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed and 15 wounded. All the hostages were freed and the hijackers arrested.
08:28 GMT - AT LEAST FIVE MORE PEOPLE FREED FROM HIJACKED EGYPTAIR PLANE: AFP
08:30 GMT - EGYPTAIR HIJACKER DEMANDS TO SEE ESTRANGED CYPRIOT WIFE: GOVT OFFICIAL
08:31 GMT - HIJACKED EGYPTAIR PLANE CARRIED 21 FOREIGNERS INCLUDING 8 AMERICANS: AVIATION MINISTRY
08:41 GMT - At least five more people have been released from the plane, an AFP correspondent at the scene says.
The five, wearing what appeared to be crew uniforms, could be seen descending from the aircraft.
08:46 GMT - The hijacker has an estranged Cypriot wife he has demanded to see and who is being brought to Larnaca airport, a government source says.
The woman lives in the village of Oroklini not far from the airport, the source tells AFP.
08:53 GMT - The Egyptian civil aviation ministry says the plane carried 21 foreigners including eight Americans, four Dutch citizens, four Britons and a French citizen.
The ministry says 81 passengers were on board, while EgyptAir in a statement says there were 55. The reason for the discrepancy is unclear.
09:01 GMT - Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades tells a joint news conference with the visiting president of the European Parliament Martin Schultz: "The hijacking is not terrorism-related."
Anastasiades says the Cyprus government has done everything it can to ensure the safe release of the passengers.
09:16 GMT - 4 CREW, 3 PASSENGERS STILL ON BOARD HIJACKED EGYPTAIR PLANE: AVIATION MINISTER
Seven still on board
09:46 GMT - Everybody on board the hijacked EgyptAir flight diverted to Cyprus has been released except for four crew members and three passengers, Egypt's civil aviation minister says.
Sherif Fathy tells a press conference that the captain, an assistant, an air hostess and a security man remain on board, along with the three passengers.
09:49 GMT - Fathy tells the press conference that the hijacker had "no gun or anything", according to Jay Deshmukh from AFP's Cairo bureau.
"We don't know yet whether his (explosives) belt is real but for the safety of passengers we are dealing with it as real," Fathy says.
He says a plane will head to Larnaca at 1030 GMT to pick up the released passengers.
Story so far
10:00 GMT - - A hijacker seized an Egyptian airliner and forced it to land in Cyprus but nearly all the passengers were quickly released and officials said the incident was not linked to terrorism
- A government source told AFP the hijacker had demanded to see a Cypriot woman, his estranged lover who lives on the island
- Egyptian civil aviation said he had threatened to detonate an explosives belt on the Airbus A-320, which had been headed from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria to Cairo
- Egypt's aviation minister Sherif Fathy says the captain, a co-pilot, an air hostess and a security guard remain on board the EgyptAir plane, along with three passengers
10:51 GMT - Euromonitor International lead analyst Kinda Chebib says the hijacking is another blow to Egypt's tourist industry and the economy more widely, coming just months after a Russian plane came down in the Sinai peninsula.
"Even if recent developments confirm that this is not a terrorist attack but rather an asylum seeker who wants to join his ex-wife, this raises further concerns about security at airports in the country," says Chebib.
11:27 GMT - AT LEAST FOUR MORE PEOPLE LEAVE HIJACKED EGYPTAIR PLANE: AFP
11:29 GMT - Asked earlier about reports that the hijacker had demanded to see a Cypriot woman, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades laughed and said: "Always there is a woman."
Police spokeswoman Nicoletta Tirimou said the hijacker had given authorities a letter written in Arabic that was being translated. Local media reported that the letter had been dropped onto the tarmac.
Tirimou said the man's ex-lover had arrived at the airport and that the couple had children.
11:32 GMT - The plane is parked on the tarmac away from a new terminal building but just 200 metres from a beach where dozens of foreign tourists are out. The aircraft is cordoned off by armed police.
The airport, the main entry point for tourists to the resort island, is closed and incoming flights diverted to Paphos on the country's western edge.
The Cyprus foreign ministry said "crisis management plans" had been put in place and that the country's National Crisis Centre had been in contact with Egyptian authorities.
11:35 GMT - At least four more people have left the hijacked EgyptAir plane, one of them by climbing out of the cockpit window, an AFP correspondent reports.
The other three were able to leave by the main door and walk down the steps.
Armed police had taken up positions behind Larnaca airport's largely disused old terminal buildings as the four emerged.
11:48 GMT - EGYPTAIR HIJACKER ARRESTED: CYPRUS GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN
12:04 GMT - A man emerged from the aircraft and then walked across the tarmac with his hands up to two awaiting counter-terrorism police officers, an AFP correspondent reports.
They laid him on the ground and searched him for around two minutes before taking him away.
The hijacker had claimed to be wearing an explosives belt when he took over the plane.
12:06 GMT - PASSENGERS, CREW OF HIJACKED EGYPTAIR PLANE SAFE: AVIATION MINISTER
12:24 GMT - EGYPTAIR HIJACKER 'UNSTABLE': CYPRUS FOREIGN MINISTRY
12:33 GMT - "This is not about terrorism. This is about the individual action of a person who is psychologically unstable," Alexandros Zenon, the permanent secretary of Cyprus's foreign ministry says.
12:54 GMT - Egypt's Prime Minister Sharif Ismail says in televised remarks that the alleged hijacker is an Egyptian and had demanded to speak to a European Union representative.
13:10 GMT - AFP IS NOW CLOSING THIS LIVE REPORT after a peaceful conclusion to a dramatic plane hijacking in Cyprus.
The hijacker, who officials said was motivated by personal reasons and who had reportedly claimed to be wearing an explosives belt, was detained after several tense hours at Larnaca airport, where the plane had landed.
The Airbus A-320 airliner had been heading from the coastal Egyptian city of Alexandria to Cairo before it was diverted.