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Calls for investigation after Quebec influencers reportedly party on chartered Sunwing flight without masks

MONTREAL — As the surge of COVID-19 cases in Quebec continues, Canada’s transport minister is calling for an investigation following reports that a group of young Quebecers partied mask-less on a chartered  flight out of Montreal. “I am aware of the reports of unacceptable behaviour on a Sunwing flight,” Omar Alghabra tweeted Tuesday. “I have asked Transport Canada to investigate the matter.”

I am aware of the reports of unacceptable behaviour on a Sunwing flight. I have asked Transport Canada to investigate the matter.

We must take the risks of COVID seriously!

— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) January 4, 2022

According to a report by the Journal de Montreal, passengers included Quebec social media influencers and reality TV stars.  In a series of videos on social media, most of which have been deleted, passengers were seen drinking alcohol, vaping, and partying in close proximity. Musician James William Awad is reported to have organized the chartered flight.

He told CTV News that the alcohol consumed was sold to the passengers by the airline. Awad, who is also the founder of Montreal holding company TripleOne, said that the group would have stopped vaping if they were asked to, but weren’t. According to the Sunwing website, “electronic cigarettes (E-cigarettes or personal vaporizers) must be packed in your carry-on baggage and cannot be used onboard.” However, it’s unclear whether this rule applies to Sunwing’s chartered flights as well.

Awad said the group plans on taking a Sunwing flight back to Montreal on Wednesday. Sunwing responded to an email from CTV News, saying it is “looking into the request for comment.”

SAFETY CONCERNS 

Dominic Daoust is a pilot for Airbus — an airline that, like Sunwing, offers chartered flight services. He said he was taken aback by what happened on the Sunwing flight.

“I saw the video everybody saw and, you know, we’re used to hearing stories about disruptive passengers once in a while. It happens and the flight attendants are trained to deal with it,” said Daoust. “But this, I’ve never seen a party that size in the back.” Daoust said it’s possible that the rules were relaxed given that it was a chartered flight.

“My first thought goes to the flight attendants that had to deal with those guys. At some point, I understand that they just have to give up,” he said, adding that since the passengers were all in one group, “they’re not bothering anybody else.” “There’s not a baby that’s trying to sleep,” he said.

But Daoust stressed that serious safety issues can arise if things get too out of control. “If there’s an alarm that’s triggered, and the flight attendant can’t immediately isolate the source, then it becomes a problem, because now the pilot has to worry about, ‘is this somebody vaping or is there something else going on?'” he explained. “Whatever happens in the cabin, it can’t affect the work of the flight attendants, because it’s not just about service.

It’s also [the pilot’s] eyes and ears in the back if something were to happen.”

Transport Canada has yet to respond to a request for comment. 

This is a developing story. 




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