Six Syrians were detained in Panama on Tuesday after the crew on their flight from Cuba alerted authorities to suspicious behavior. But an aviation official quickly denied police reports that the Syrians tried to open the cockpit door.
"This is not a hijacking," said Victor de la Hoz, spokesman for the Panamanian Civil Aviation Authority.
Panama's National Police director, Rolando Mirones, said earlier that the passengers approached the cockpit "apparently with the intention of opening a door."
But de la Hoz said the Copa Airlines crew simply notified authorities on the ground that a knife was missing after they served the meal in the first-class cabin, where the Syrians were sitting. He did not say whether the Syrians were suspected of taking the knife.