The man, who claimed to have planted a bomb on board, forced the diversion of the internal flight from Marseilles, which was due to land at the other Paris airport, Orly. He immediately released most of the 66 passengers but held the crew and five people sitting in the first row of seats for another three hours.
His precise motives were unclear but he told the French news agency in a call from a portable telephone that his name was Stefano Savorani and that he represented an organisation called Vitalunismo, which was campaigning for a united Europe. He said he wanted to make a statement on television and asked for cameras to be provided.
He did not want cash, he said, only that his movement, which he also described as a new religion called l'avenismo, should be "recognised".
The passenger who lent the mobile phone to the hijacker - just before being released - said that was all was calm aboard the plane and there had been no violence.
It was unclear whether there was really a bomb on the plane, due to land in Paris at 4pm, or whether the man had any other form of weapon.
One of the first group of passengers to be released, Jean-Yves Leheude, described the hijacker as "silver-haired and romantic-looking".
He said that all had been perfectly calm when the aircraft landed and that most of the passengers had disembarked quite normally. "He just insisted that the passengers in the first row should remain behind."Reuse content