Pax Global Media
Transport Canada has issued its first round of fines in response to the now-notorious Sunwing “party plane” that led to a wild onboard party – and widely-shared footage of the incident on social media – last year.
In an announcement on Tuesday (March 8), Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said that six passengers who were not fully vaccinated when they boarded the flight have received penalties, which could reach a maximum of $5,000 each.
The Dec. 30, 2021, flight from Montreal to Cancun, chartered by James William Awad, founder of the members-only 111 Private Club, was flung into a federal investigation after videos from the flight shared on social media showed passengers not wearing masks, smoking vapes, showing off an opened bottle of liquor and crowding and dancing in the aisles.
"Certain behaviours reported in connection with the flight on December 30, 2021, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Minister Alghabra said in a statement. “This is why Transport Canada took immediate action. Aviation rules must be respected by everyone, for the sake of everyone's safety.”
“Transport Canada will continue to investigate and issue all necessary penalties."
READ MORE: Sunwing party flight organizer could face fines for not being a travel agent, passengers fired from jobs
The investigation is ongoing and it is expected that “more penalties will be issued” in the coming days and weeks, Transport Canada said.
Since Jan. 4, 2022, Transport Canada has been conducting an investigation to determine whether the Aeronautics Act, regulations or requirements pertaining to aviation safety and security were contravened during that flight.
If non-compliance is identified, Transport Canada will ensure that all appropriate enforcement actions are taken.
Specifically, the department has been reviewing compliance with the Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID–19, No. 50, the Canadian Aviation Regulations and the Aeronautics Act.
“A slap in the face"
The story, since going public in January, has sparked public outrage, including anger on PAX’s own Facebook page, where more than 100 comments were left by readers – the majority of which condemned the group’s behaviour.
After footage of the partiers was published by media outlets around the world, many participants found themselves stranded in Mexico after airlines – Sunwing included – announced that they would not fly the group home.
Real-life consequences with employers also caught up with some participants who returned to Canada to learn that they had been fired from their jobs.
The incident also earned reprimands from federal officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who, on Jan. 5, told reporters that he was "extremely frustrated" by the group’s actions, which he called “a slap in the face.”
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