Sunwing flight 772 returns to Pearson airport after threat made
Watch above: Tactical team storms Sunwing plane at Pearson International Airport.
TORONTO – A tactical police team stormed a Sunwing plane that was forced to land at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after a passenger on board made a “direct threat” against the plane, according to a Sunwing spokesperson.
Sunwing flight WG772 departed Pearson just after 7 a.m. but had to be diverted back to Toronto.
“The aircraft turned around approximately 45 minutes into the flight over West Virginia when an agitated customer made a direct threat against the aircraft,” said Sunwing spokesperson Janine Chapman in a media release.
The plane landed safely at Pearson airport around 8:55 a.m. and was met by authorities who stormed the plane carrying automatic weapons and shouting at passengers to get their “heads down” and their “hands up.”
The 25-year-old passenger, identified as Ali Shahi, was then arrested by Peel Regional Police and taken into custody.
Shahi is facing four charges including two mischief charges, uttering threats and endangering the safety of an aircraft.
Watch: A Peel region swat team storms the plane after a “direct threat” was made. Sean Mallen reports.
Phil Thompson was on board the Panama-bound flight and was sitting three rows ahead of Shahi.
“We heard him speaking, we heard him yelling. He was being pretty belligerent, using a lot of cuss words. He said he didn’t care what happened to the plane or the people on it and he didn’t like Canada and didn’t care about Canada,” Thompson said in an interview Friday.
“He didn’t care about the consequences of his actions, he literally didn’t care if the plane went down.”
The flight carried a crew of six, and 183 passengers, including two infants.
Sunwing says none of the passengers were injured and another flight will depart for Panama later this afternoon.
“Sunwing is providing customers with complimentary meals and other assistance while they await the official start of their vacation,” Chapman said.
Watch: Sunwing passenger recounts the harrowing experience
It’s been an eventful week at Pearson after two other aircrafts required emergency landings.
A Westjet plane leaving from Hamilton to Calgary suffered a mechanical problem on Thursday and on Sunday, an Air Canada flight from Edmonton landed safely in Toronto when a flight control indication light came on.