An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked a plane bound for Rome, carrying at least one British national, and flew it to Switzerland, where he wanted to seek asylum, officials said.

Airport police say the man has been arrested, and the situation is "under control" with no reports of injuries.

Dramatic reports have said the co-pilot who hijacked the Ethiopian Airlines plane took control of the aircraft when the pilot went to the toilet, landed the plane in Geneva and left the aircraft through a window on a rope.

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Geneva Airport chief executive Robert Deillon told reporters that the co-pilot took control of Flight ET702 when the pilot ventured outside the cockpit.

"The pilot went to the toilet and he [the co-pilot] locked himself in the cockpit," Deillon said.

The man "wanted asylum in Switzerland," he said. "That's the motivation of the hijacking."

Ethiopian Airlines flight 702 was denied permission to land and circled over Geneva for several minutes before it was "forced to proceed" to the airport, which has been temporarily closed by authorities, a spokesman of the airport told the Reuters news agency.

FlightRadar 24 - an app for mobile devices - showed the flight circling over Geneva several times before landing.

The pilot is reported to have issued a mayday as the plane flew over Sudan.

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Geneva police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt, told the Associated Press that the plane made an unscheduled landing in the Swiss city Monday morning.

In an apparent recording of a radio communication between the aircraft and air traffic control posted on the social media site Twitter, a demand for asylum was made.

"We need asylum or assurance we will not be transferred to the Ethiopian government," the voice in the recording said.

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A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of an incident which we believe is now over, and we remain in contact with the relevant officials.

"We are aware of one British national on board the plane and we stand ready to provide consular assistance if needed."

Geneva airport was initially closed to other flights, but operations resumed around two hours after the hijacked plane landed. "We hope everything will return to normal in the afternoon," Deillon said.

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  • Police stand around the aircraft after passengers were evacuated from a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane on the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. A hijacked aircraft traveling from Addis Abeda, Ethiopia, to Rome, Italy, has landed at Geneva's international airport early Monday morning. Swiss authorities have arrested the hijacker.

  • Police stand around the aircraft after passengers were evacuated from a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane on the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. A hijacked aircraft traveling from Addis Abeda, Ethiopia, to Rome, Italy, has landed at Geneva's international airport early Monday morning. Swiss authorities have arrested the hijacker.

  • Police stand around the aircraft after passengers were evacuated from a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane on the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. A hijacked aircraft traveling from Addis Abeda, Ethiopia, to Rome, Italy, has landed at Geneva's international airport early Monday morning. Swiss authorities have arrested the hijacker.

  • Police stand around the aircraft after passengers were evacuated from a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane on the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. A hijacked aircraft traveling from Addis Abeda, Ethiopia, to Rome, Italy, has landed at Geneva's international airport early Monday morning. Swiss authorities have arrested the hijacker.

  • Police stand around the aircraft after passengers were evacuated from a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane on the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. A hijacked aircraft traveling from Addis Abeda, Ethiopia, to Rome, Italy, has landed at Geneva's international airport early Monday morning. Swiss authorities have arrested the hijacker.

  • SWITZERLAND-ETHIOPIA-HIJACKING

    Photo taken with a portable telephone on February 17, 2014 in Geneva shows the Ethiopian Airlines flight en route to Rome which was on hijacked and forced to land in Geneva, where the hijacker has been arrested, police said. There were no immediate reports of injuries and in a statement in Addis Ababa Ethiopian Airlines said 'the passengers are safe and sound.' AFP Photo/Pierre Taillefer (Photo credit should read PIERRE TAILLEFER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SWITZERLAND-ETHIOPIA-HIJACKING

    Photo taken with na portable telephone on February 17, 2014 in Geneva shows the Ethiopian Airlines flight en route to Rome which was on hijacked and forced to land in Geneva, where the hijacker has been arrested, police said. There were no immediate reports of injuries and in a statement in Addis Ababa Ethiopian Airlines said 'the passengers are safe and sound.' AFP Photo/Pierre Taillefer (Photo credit should read PIERRE TAILLEFER/AFP/Getty Images)