Six more Sunwing party plane passengers fined up to $5,000

Click to play video: 'Sunwing party organizer said he did what he could to ensure safety of passengers'
Sunwing party organizer said he did what he could to ensure safety of passengers
The organizer of the private event company responsible for the now infamous New Year’s Eve party on a Sunwing flight from Montreal to Mexico has released a statement saying he believes he did everything he could do to ensure the safety of the participants. As Global’s Elizabeth Zogalis reports, he is now back in Montreal and claims he will do what is necessary to ensure stranded passengers make it back home – Jan 6, 2022

Six more passengers of a Sunwing flight bound for Cancun from Quebec are being fined up to $5,000 for breaking COVID-19 travel rules.

Videos of the flight sparked outrage on social media as a number of people could be seen not wearing masks as they use vapes, hold a large bottle of vodka, and sing and dance in the aisles and on seats while the country was in the middle of a wave of COVID-19.

“We have issued a new series of 6 penalties, up to $5,000, to travellers on the Dec 30 flight to Cancun. 5 penalties for non-compliance w/ vaccination rules & 1 penalty for not wearing a mask. 12 penalties so far,” wrote Transportation Minister Alghabra on Twitter.

He added that “there are consequences for those who break the rules!”

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The flight and the raucous celebrations came amid the Omicron COVID-19 outbreak as cases skyrocketed. With a very transmissible variant at play coupled with fears of a looming lockdown and travel being advised against, the Sunwing passengers saw immediate and severe backlash from across the country including the Prime Minister.

“It’s a slap in the face to see people putting themselves, putting their fellow citizens, putting airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time.

The latest penalties hitting the Sunwing travellers follow fines that Transport Canada issued earlier in March, where six travellers were fined for not being fully vaccinated when they boarded their flight to Cancun. The total number of passengers fined is now twelve.

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“Certain behaviours reported in connection with the flight on December 30, 2021, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Alghabra said in a press release on Mar. 8.

One week after the flight, Canada reported 39,433 new COVID-19 cases and 69 deaths, but a number of provinces had restricted COVID-19 PCR testing as they drowned in the demand — prompting the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to warn that daily case counts likely to underestimate the true numbers.

“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,” Alghabra said.

As Alghabra alluded, the investigation into the flight is ongoing.

— with files from Rachel Gilmore

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