Canada launches probe over wild maskless influencer flight to Cancun that breached Covid laws

·2 min read
Dozens of people reportedly partied on the privately-chartered Montreal to Cancun flight on 30 December (Twitter: FrancisPilon_)
Dozens of people reportedly partied on the privately-chartered Montreal to Cancun flight on 30 December (Twitter: FrancisPilon_)

Canada has begun investigations into an incident aboard a Cancun-bound Sunwing Airlines flight, where maskless people partied, violating several air travel rules as well as Covid-19 safety protocols.

Transport minister Omar Alghabra said he has asked the regulatory body Transport Canada to probe reports that dozens of people partied on the privately-chartered flight that left Montreal on 30 December.

“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,” the minister said in a tweet.

He added: “The health and safety of on-board personnel as well as passengers during a flight is a top priority. Passengers on Sunwing’s flight to Cancun will be held accountable for their actions.”

Videos on social media showed people drinking alcohol, taking selfies, bouncing and lifting each other and dancing without wearing a mask at a time when coronavirus cases are soaring in the country.

In a statement, the minister added that Transport Canada had 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 (around £3,000) per offence could be issued to passengers,” Mr Alghabra said.

According to the airline, the behaviour of the concerned group of passengers on the flight was “unruly and contravened several Canadian aviation regulations as well as public health regulations”.

The group’s return flight to Montreal, slated for Wednesday, has now been cancelled, officials said, citing the airline’s investigation.

It added that an investigation into the incident was launched after an internal probe by its security department, following which it informed Transport Canada.

Officials of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4055, which represents Sunwing’s flight attendants, called the revelry an “unacceptable behaviour from passengers that puts our cabin crew at enormous risk.”

“We need the airlines and the federal government to support and protect our members against this kind of mob behaviour and make sure it never happens again,” CUPE’s president Rena Kisfalvi said.

On Tuesday, Canada reported 35,618 new cases as the country battles a surge in infections led by the Omicron variant. So far, Canada has reported more than two million cases and 30,399 deaths.

The country is witnessing stringent restrictions in the wake of rising Covid cases. Most populous provinces have stopped in-school learning till 17 January. Public services like restaurants and dining rooms have been asked to operate only till 10 pm.