Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called videos of a party on a recent Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Cancun, Mexico, a “slap in the face” to those who have tried to stay safe during the pandemic and said Wednesday that Canada’s airline regulator is investigating. After videos of the incident when viral, several airlines refused to fly the passengers back home, the Canadian Press reports.
Videos of the December 30 flight shared on social media show passengers not wearing masks as they gather in close proximity, singing and dancing in the aisle and on seats. In one video, a large bottle of vodka appears to be passed among passengers, and later a woman appears to be smoking an electronic cigarette on the plane.
According to reports, the plane had been chartered and some of the passengers were cast members from Quebec reality television shows.
“It’s a slap in the face to see people putting themselves, their fellow citizens and airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible,” Trudeau said.
“This is a situation Transport Canada takes extremely seriously and we are following up.”
Trudeau promised a full investigation.
“Like Canadians who have seen those videos, I’m extremely frustrated,” he said.
The Canadian Press reports Sunwing Airlines canceled the return flight for the group of passengers and 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.”
Air Transat followed suit, posting on Twitter 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.”
Transport Canada has contacted the airline, and says passengers who violated the department’s regulations could face fines of up to $5,000 Canadian (US $3,938) per infraction.
Rena Kisfalvi, who heads the union local representing about 1,000 Sunwing flight attendants, said Sunwing is the only major Canadian airline that does not offer rapid tests to cabin crews, a measure she believes should be mandatory.
Kisfalvi says up to 50% of her colleagues have had to call in sick over the past month due to potential COVID-19 symptoms.
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