1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Hostage situation at Hamburg Airport ends after 18 hours

November 5, 2023

Police said the man, who used his car to ram the airport gate, while holding his child hostage, was arrested. The ordeal suspended air traffic at Hamburg Airport.

Hamburg airport terminal
The plane and airport terminal buildings have been evacuated by policeImage: Fabian Bimmer/REUTERS

A man who used his car to break into the secure area of the Hamburg airport was arrested on Sunday, police said, ending an 18-hour hostage situation which brought the airport to a standstill.

The suspect is believed to have had his young daughter in the car with him and was keeping the child hostage. Police said the four-year-old child was unharmed.

"The hostage-taking has ended, the man has left his car with his daughter and been taken for questioning by security forces without resistance," local police said.

Child held hostage at Hamburg airport freed

Air traffic was suspended until further notice, with approaches to the airport blocked, according to airport officials.

Hamburg airport said on Sunday that flights have resumed, but it noted that considerable cancellations and delays were still there.

"Please keep an eye on your flight status and contact your airline if necessary," the airport said.

Negotiations in Turkish

Police had urged passengers and other members of the public to stay away from the airport.

"We must currently assume that he is in possession of a live firearm and possibly also explosive devices of an unknown type," police had said in the morning, adding that they remained in contact with the suspect.

The authorities believe the suspect is engaged in a "custody dispute." On Saturday, his wife contacted the police over a possible child kidnapping. Some time later, the man drove through a closed gate at the Hamburg airport, firing two shots in the air and throwing "some sort of Molotov cocktails," according to the police.

His car came to a stop under a Turkish Airlines plane.

Special police units at Hamburg airport
Police have deployed large number of units to the sceneImage: Jonas Walzberg/dpa/picture alliance

A police spokeswoman later told the DPA news agency that the negotiations are conducted in Turkish. However, it was not immediately clear if the man was a Turkish national or a member of Germany's sizable Turkish community. Police believe he is 35 years old.

The incident prompted a large police deployment, with SWAT teams also on the scene.

Police spokeswoman Sandra Levgruen told regional television channel NDR that it was "a very good sign" that the man remained in contact with authorities over a prolonged period of time.

Airport: Alarm chains worked 'flawlessly'

A spokesperson for Hamburg airport said security measures were effective and that criminals willing to use force would be able to gain access to the airport.

"To ensure the safety of air traffic, apart from structural measures, alarm chains have been set up that worked faultlessly," the spokeswoman told the DPA news agency. "It is not possible to provide greater detail on the security aspects."

Scores of flights canceled

The Turkish Airlines plane, along with several others, has been evacuated. Authorities also cleared airport terminal buildings. Some 3,200 passengers were affected and over 60 flights were canceled as of Sunday morning.

Previously, the police spokeswoman told DPA that authorities were trying to negotiate a solution, and said it was "absolutely a good sign" that negotiations were taking a long time.

"He wants to talk to us," she told the agency.

dj/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.