Indonesian jets force Ethiopian cargo plane to land over airspace breach

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Two Indonesian F-16 fighter jets forced an Ethiopian Airlines [ETHA.UL] cargo plane to land on Monday at an airport on Batam island after it had flown into Indonesian airspace without permission, an air force spokesman said.

First Marshal Novyan Samyoga said in a statement the Boeing Co 777 cargo plane had been secured by air force personnel at Hang Nadim international airport on Batam, an island south of Singapore.

The cargo flight ETH 3728 had been flying from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Hong Kong.

Officials at Ethiopian Airlines said the plane had made an urgent unscheduled flight to drop an aircraft engine in Singapore for maintenance.

“(The plane) was crossing the Indonesian airspace in accordance with the ICAO Chicago Convention Article 5, by which a non-scheduled flight can overfly the airspace of a friendly country without prior permission,” the email from the airline read.

Ethiopian Airlines had explained to Indonesia and the crew was now resting in a hotel before continuing their flight, the airline said.

Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Darren Schuettler