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Sunwing party flight passengers fined total of $59K: Transport Canada

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After a nearly four-month investigation, 37 passengers on the infamous Sunwing “party flight” in late December are now facing a total of $59,500 in federal fines.

Transport Canada didn’t provide a breakdown of the fines per passenger, but they reach a maximum of $5,000 each, it said in a news release Thursday.

The 154-passenger chartered flight from Montreal to Cancun hit the news after photos and videos from it went viral, showing people drinking and partying in the aisles without masks. One passenger even claimed some passengers attempted to thwart COVID-19 tests by putting Vaseline in their noses.

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An event planner chartered the flight to carry a group to a New Year’s Eve trip, including some Quebec reality TV stars and high-profile social media personalities.

Sunwing cancelled the group’s return flight, and other airlines refused to carry members of the group as well, leaving many of them stranded in Mexico. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called them “barbarians” at the time.

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“Following Transport Canada’s investigation into the Montreal-Cancun flight of Dec. 30, 2021, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, announced today that the majority of non-compliant passengers have received penalties,” Transport Canada said Thursday.

Some people were found to have committed multiple infractions, with a total of 42 penalties spread between the 37 people.

That includes “18 penalties for non-compliance of vaccination status and 24 penalties for not respecting instructions to wear a mask,” Transport Canada wrote.

That suggests that 18 people on the flight were not fully vaccinated, as required by federal vaccine mandates for plane and train passengers.

Passengers on flights leaving Canada were, and still are, also required to wear masks on board.  

While the maximum fine was $5,000 per person, if divided equally, the sum adds up to much less, about $1,600 per passenger.  

Fines have already been issued by Health Canada over the same flight, particularly around quarantine rules. Still, Transport Canada is responsible for investigating air safety incidents and problematic behaviour onboard flights.

The agency also penalized six people in an earlier round of fines.

“With this investigation, we want to send a clear message: the behaviour of some passengers on the Montreal-Cancun flight of Dec. 30 was unacceptable and it is not tolerated,” said Alghabra in a statement. 

This is a developing story.

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