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Air Canada prevents 19 passengers from returning home after Sunwing plane party

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Air Canada prevents 19 passengers from returning home after Sunwing plane party

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The organizer of a private trip to Mexico for a group of Quebec influencers says he has “learned a lot” from the ordeal, but is still upset that the airlines do not fly the group to his home based on what ‘he called “presumptions” about them.

“I understand why many citizens are upset by the current situation,” wrote James William Awad in a statement posted on Blogspot Thursday morning.

“Private Club 111 is a dream and a vision that I put all my heart and soul into creating. It was my first travel event. I learned a lot and still learn from this experience.”

Awad did not go into details in his blog post about what happened on the flight south of Montreal on December 30, chartered with Sunwing Airlines. He said he would give media interviews later.

Videos and photos of the flight showed people without masks standing on seats and dancing in the aisles while drinking alcohol, with some vaping.

Awad said it was unfair of Sunwing and other airlines to refuse to bring the same passengers back to Canada, leaving most of them stranded in Cancun.

He said in a meeting on Tuesday, a day before the scheduled return flight, he accepted a list of requests from Sunwing, including four additional in-flight security personnel at his expense, wearing strict masks. and negative PCR tests for all passengers. .

Alcohol was not to be served on board and all passengers were to be in a “sober state” at check-in.

“Standing in the aisle [would] is not allowed, ”he wrote, and he would“ be held responsible if the flight were to be diverted to another location due to non-compliance ”.

But there was a sticking point, Awad said: he insisted a meal be served, and the airline was unwilling to provide food.

“I assured them that all measures would be followed, but we could not reach a deal as Sunwing refused to provide meals for the group for a five hour flight,” he wrote.

Sunwing told CTV News that “unfortunately the group did not agree to all the terms” and that “as a result … we have made the decision to cancel the return flight.”

However, Awad has always blamed Sunwing for canceling the flight and other airlines for following suit.

“They canceled our flight on the basis of suspicion, so other companies followed suit,” Awad wrote.

Awad told CTV News earlier that he also felt Sunwing was partly responsible for the first flight because, he said, the airline never told passengers to stop partying and , in his opinion, even made it easier by serving alcohol and the staff seeming to encourage the fun on board.

“We never got an order from Sunwing to stop the party,” he wrote in a message to CTV News.

There were “flight attendants dancing with us,” he added. “If an instruction had been given to stop everything, I would have stopped him in a second.”

Sunwing did not respond to a request from CTV News to respond to the allegations.

AIR CANADA CARRIED PASSENGER BAGGAGE OFF AIRCRAFT

Air Canada and Air Transat both said publicly on Wednesday that they also refused tickets to people when they could identify them as passengers on the Sunwing flight, although some of the group reportedly returned to Montreal with Air Canada on Wednesday.

Air Canada said Thursday afternoon it has so far barred 19 people from flying because they were linked to the group, but it can be difficult to exclude them.

“Air Canada did not receive the passenger manifest from Sunwing, which makes it difficult to prevent the passengers on this flight from boarding our plane,” said an Air Canada spokesperson.

“As noted, as long as we can identify the passengers who were part of the group, we are refusing boarding to ensure the safety of other passengers and our crews,” the company said.

“Fifteen people were denied boarding yesterday and four more this morning for this reason.”

They added that “Air Canada will have no further comments on this matter with respect to another carrier.”

CTV News on Wednesday obtained a copy of an Air Canada notification to passengers on a Cancun-Montreal flight received after boarding, saying the flight was an hour late due to “the extra time needed to complete a screening security of a client ”.

A female passenger on the flight, who declined to give her name because she works in a public job, said the delay was due to some former Sunwing passengers who were denied boarding at the last minute, their luggage having been removed from the aircraft. Once in Canada, she said law enforcement took over, verifying the identities of all disembarking passengers and matching them to a series of names on a list officers had on hand.

Federal authorities are investigating the Sunwing flight to see if any passengers have broken Transport Canada rules, saying they could face hefty fines if they do.

The Canada Border Services Agency told CTV on Thursday that no one on the inbound Air Canada flight had been arrested or handcuffed, contrary to some media reports.

Transport Canada stated that if it was found that passengers had violated the Aeronautics Act for “acting in an unruly or dangerous manner on board”, they could face a fine of up to $ 100,000 and / or up to five years in prison. They could also be liable to a fine of up to $ 5,000 for breaching the Interim Order concerning certain requirements for civil aviation due to COVID-19. For airlines, the maximum fine is $ 25,000.

“Transport Canada will not hesitate to take appropriate and proportionate enforcement action in light of the facts uncovered,” the regulator wrote in an email to CTV.

SOME IN THE GROUP ARE SICK, SELF-INSULATING IN MEXICO

Awad said some of his group were trying to find a way to return home immediately.

“Right now, Private Club 111 is working around the clock to get everyone home safely as quickly as possible,” Awad wrote.

But the issue of return flights may be moot to some, at least for now, as a travel member told media on Wednesday that she tested positive for COVID-19, with what she estimated to be. Another 30 people, who are now self-isolating in Mexico and would not be allowed to travel to Canada.

Rebecca St-Pierre, 19, won her spot in an Instagram contest, although most of the other entrants are Quebec reality TV stars, well-known social media figures and other prominent young people.

–With files from The Canadian Press and CTV’s Joe Lofaro


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