Canada’s transport minister on Tuesday called for an investigation into reports of maskless revelers on a recent Sunwing Airlines flight to Cancun as the country battles rising Covid-19 cases.
Transportation Secretary Omar Alghabra said on Twitter that he had asked regulator Transport Canada to investigate media reports in which passengers on the December 30 flight from Montreal snapped selfies, drank alcohol and gathered close together.
“I am aware of reports of unacceptable behavior on a Sunwing flight,” said Alghabra.
“Transport Canada has contacted the airline regarding this flight,” the regulator said in a statement late Tuesday, adding that passengers could be fined up to CAD 5,000 ($ 3,932) per offense if transportation Canada determines that they are not complying with regulations.
The Toronto-based leisure company said via email that the behavior of a group of passengers on the private charter flight was “recalcitrant and violates several Canadian aviation and public health regulations.”
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Sunwing said it canceled the group’s scheduled return flight to Montreal on Jan. 5 due to the airline’s investigation and the group’s refusal to accept all of its terms of carriage.
Sunwing said the flight to Cancun triggered an investigation by its security department and an initial notification to Transport Canada.
“This is unacceptable passenger behavior that puts our cabin crew at tremendous risk,” said Rena Kisfalvi, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local, which represents Sunwing flight attendants. “We need the airlines and the federal government to support and protect our members from this type of mob behavior and to ensure that this never happens again.”
Transport Canada also warned that providing false information upon entry into the country is a “serious crime” that can result in penalties, criminal charges, or both.
A traveler could face fines of up to $ 750,000 CAD ($ 590,047) and a jail term of six months or both if found guilty. Travelers could face up to three years in prison and fines up to CAD 1 million ($ 786,729) if found guilty of harming or harming the lives of others.
Canada’s most populous provinces closed school classes until Jan. 17, with badly-hit Quebec closing restaurant dining rooms and imposing a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to help contain the spread of the coronavirus and rising hospital admissions.