Cancun, Q.R. — Transport Canada has been asked to investigate a Montreal to Cancun Sunwing flight after passengers were seen partying. Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra made the request to Transport Canada after reports of “unacceptable” behavior were recorded during the flight to Cancun.
In the video that has been circulating on social media, passengers are seen maskless, sharing alcoholic beverages, dancing in the isle and vaping during the December 30 flight.
Rena Kisfalvi, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local that represents about 1,000 Sunwing flight attendants, also called the behavior unacceptable. In a statement, Sunwing says it has notified Transport Canada about the behavior, and that its security department is investigating.
“The health and safety of our employees and passengers is our top priority,” Sunwing said. The passengers’ behavior was “unruly and contravened several Canadian Aviation Regulations as well as public health regulations.”
Sunwing said after the event, they cancelled their return flight home. The group, which were set to depart Cancun on January 5, had their Sunwing flight canceled after “the group did not accept all the terms”as set out by Sunwing.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has since given a press conference where he condemned the maskless party, referring to it as a “slap in the face” to those who have followed the rules since the start of the pandemic.
“We know how hard people have worked to keep themselves safe, to limit their family gatherings at Christmas time, to wear masks, to get vaccinated, to do all the right things.
“This is a slap in the face to see people putting themselves, putting their fellow citizens, putting airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible,” he said.
During the Wednesday press conference, Trudeau commented that he was “extremely frustrated” while watching the videos of those on board partying on the Sunwing flight. Those videos have since been deleted.
Trudeau said there will be a full investigation into the event, adding that the individuals involved will be held accountable.
“Transport Canada has been in contact with the airline concerning this flight. Should the department determine that non-compliance with Transport Canada regulations and requirements has occurred, fines of up to $5,000 per offence could be issued to passengers,” the statement said.
Reports say that the Sunwing flight was chartered. The airline launched a separate investigation into the matter. On Wednesday, Air Transat posted that the group of travelers tried to board their aircraft to return to Canada, but were denied.
“We confirm that they will be denied boarding based on our legal and regulatory obligations to ensure the safety of both our passengers and crew, which is our top priority,” the tweet read.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre is calling on the government to retrieve the millions of dollars in support provided to Sunwing throughout the pandemic.
For now, the group is facing stranding. In a statement, Air Canada says they too, are refusing to transport the passengers back to Montreal from Cancun.
Air Canada issued a statement saying that “to the extent that we can identify the passengers who were part of the group, Air Canada is denying boarding to ensure the safety of other passengers and its crew.”