Nobody was killed or injured in the ordeal, which ended with a raid near daylight after talks broke down with a 20-year-old Jamaican hijacker described as "mentally challenged."
"We were getting nowhere with the negotiations," Jamaican Information Minister Daryl Vaz told The Associated Press. "Police and military went on the plane and captured him."
The suspect identified as Stephen Fray was in custody. Vaz said he is a "mentally challenged" 20-year-old man from the northwestern resort city of Montego Bay.
He did not detail the man's mental condition but said he was apparently upset over a failed relationship.
The hostage crisis that began around 10:20 p.m. Sunday and ended near 6:40 a.m., when members of the Jamaica Defense Force Counter Terrorism Operations Group stormed the aircraft's cabin, according to a police statement. The young man boarded CanJet Airlines Flight 918 in Montego Bay and demanded to be flown to Cuba, Vaz said.
A total of 159 passengers and eight crew members were aboard the Boeing 737 at the time, according to Jamaican police. Police said all the passengers and two crew members were released after a short time.
There were unconfirmed reports that a shot was fired outside the aircraft, CanJet Vice President Kent Woodside said in a news conference yesterday. He said the passengers also were robbed.
Alphonse Gosselin, whose 30-year-old son Christian was on the plane, said his son told him that the hijacker pointed a gun at him and other passengers. Christian and his girlfriend were among a group of 22 family members traveling to Cuba for a wedding.
"The first thing that he said to his girlfriend was, 'Be calm. Don't say a word.' He said take your passport and your credit card and put it in your back pocket. He said we'll give him the money," Gosselin said in an interview from Tracadie Sheila, New Brunswick.
All the passengers were Canadian, Woodside said. The plane had arrived from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was scheduled to stop in Santa Clara, Cuba, before returning to Canada.
Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding addressed all the passengers after they were debriefed by police, according to the police statement.
"It's a most unfortunate situation, I can say the passengers are happy to be alive," Vaz said. "This experience has been very traumatic for them."