A WestJet spokesperson told Global News that while waiting to proceed to the gate, a Sunwing plane reversing from the gate struck a WestJet Boeing 737-800 carrying 168 guests and six crew members.
Passengers on WestJet Flight 2425 had to evacuate the airplanes by its emergency slide “due to the position of the aircraft on the laneway,” the spokesperson said. Everyone from the flight was taken inside Terminal 3 for customs processing.
In a statement from a Sunwing spokesperson, they said one of their planes came into contact with another aircraft while it was being towed. They said there were no passengers or crew onboard at the time. The airline said it will release an update as information becomes available.
Swissport Canada Handling Inc. confirmed to Global News its staff towed the Sunwing plane. Pierre Payette, vice president of operations for Toronto, said in a written statement the company “regrets” the incident and is cooperating with Transportation Safety Board investigators.
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“The incident occurred when our employee was pushing back the plane from the gate,” Payette wrote.
“The impact caused a small fire in the empty aircraft’s exterior generator, which was quickly extinguished by the fire department.”
A Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson said it took fire and emergency services crews 18 minutes to extinguish the fire.
In a dramatic audio recording of air traffic control staff and pilots shared by the website LiveATC.net, a pilot issued a mayday call.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday, WestJet 2425 we’re evacuating,” he said, before someone could be heard saying, “We’re on fire.”
Photos shared on social media appear to show flames shooting out from the Sunwing plane and firefighters dousing it with water.
VIDEO: Pilot calls for ‘mayday’ after plane catches fire at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
Peel paramedics said a person was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) told Global News investigators were dispatched to the airport from Richmond Hill to look into the incident.
TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski said on Saturday that the investigation is still ongoing but they confirmed the “fire started when an auxiliary power unit of the Sunwing flight made contact with the WestJet flight.”
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