The Canadian Transportation Agency is demanding Air Transat explain why passengers on two of its planes diverted to Ottawa on Monday ended up being stranded inside the aircraft for hours — long enough for a pair of flyers to call 911.
Air Transat Flight 157 from Brussels was scheduled to arrive in Montreal at 3:15 p.m. ET Monday, but was diverted to Ottawa after circling east of Montreal due to thunderstorms.
The flight landed at the Ottawa airport just after 5 p.m. ET, following more than eight hours of flying time, and then sat on the tarmac for six additional hours. Passengers were not allowed to get off.
Air Transat Flight 507, from Rome to Montreal, was also diverted to Ottawa due to the weather. It was scheduled to land in Montreal at 4:50 p.m. ET, but landed in Ottawa at about 6 p.m. ET after nine hours and 45 minutes of flying time.
The plane then sat on the tarmac for four hours. Again, passengers were unable to leave the aircraft.
In a statement Wednesday, the CTA said it was launching an inquiry to determine whether Air Transat respected its tariff — a document that sets out, among other things, an airline’s rights and responsibilities towards its passengers.
“Under the Canada Transportation Act, the CTA has the authority to launch inquiries, on its own motion, related to an airline’s international tariff,” the quasi-judicial regulator said.
“If it finds that a tariff has not been properly applied, or that the terms and conditions in the tariff are unreasonable, it can order corrective measures.”
No food, little information
One woman on the Brussels flight told CBC News that passengers were stuck in a sweltering cabin without air conditioning after the plane ran out of fuel.
Passengers were given limited information about what was going on, said Laura Mah, and food was being rationed so that children on board could have something to eat.
I’m sorry to hear that – it’s up to the airline to determine whether to deplane or wait it out when a flight diverts.
Staff with the Ottawa International Airport Authority were handing out bottles of water, and the plane’s doors had been opened to let air circulate.
“I’m super pissed,” Mah said on Monday. “I’m just really hot, I’m sweating, and I haven’t eaten … I’m hungry and they only rationed the food to give little snacks to kids, which is good. Luckily, they started bringing in bottles of water from the outside, like 45 minutes ago, but no food….