Air Transat passengers outraged by layover on Ottawa airport tarmac dial 911
Passengers on an Air Transat plane were stuck in the aircraft for about six hours on Monday on a runway at Ottawa International Airport.
The aircraft, originating from Brussels and carrying 336 passengers, was scheduled to land at Montreal's Trudeau airport by mid-afternoon, but travellers were informed that storms in the Montreal area had delayed their flight.
The plane was therefore re-routed to the Ottawa airport.
Passengers like Olivier Alfieri feverishly tweeted at Air Transat, demanding an explanation for their delay.
"One child began to cry. the other children began to cry, everybody cries, and everybody begins to freak out. The ambiance became more nervous," said Alfieri.
Four hours into the wait, video shows that the plane lost electricity.
Five hours into the delay, passengers began to complain about the heat and the lack of air flow in the cabin.
@airtransat Flt TS157 has been stuck for 5 hours now. EMS has been on board to attend pax due to heat. What is going on???— JS Ferland (@js_ferland) August 1, 2017
Some such tweets allege that satellite images and forecasting sites gave weather clearance hours before the flight left the tarmac.
Air Transat responded saying that Ottawa International Airport had received more than 30 unexpected flights due to inclement weather.
Were waiting for airport authorities, we have no control for that.YOW received more than 30 non-expected flights. /CPA— Air Transat (@airtransat) August 1, 2017
In an interview with The Canadian Press, a passenger -- Maryanne Zehil, said that passengers were unable to leave the plane after it landed in Ottawa for a period of about six hours.
She reported it was very hot, and passengers had trouble breathing. She also tweeted that her dog had not received any water in over 15 hours.
At that time, the passengers had been aboard the plane for about 15 hours total.
It appears that the captain was waiting for an opportunity to refuel before leaving Ottawa, and the lack of fuel was the reason the air conditioning could not continue to run.
The plane also ran out of its supply of water during the flight from Brussels.
A thunderstorm swept over Montreal and southern Quebec Monday afternoon. Thousands of Montrealers experienced power outages, and flash flooding was reported across the city.
Apologies issued by Air Transat to angered passengers fell mostly on deaf ears-- passengers reported feeling "suffocated," and are questioning the airline's decision not to de-plane once the flight was definitively delayed.
merci d'être désolés mais il était dans votre contrôle d'assurer le bien être de vos passagers. Échec!— Maryanne Zéhil (@MaryanneZehil) August 1, 2017
A statement issued by Air Transat explained that the unexpected influx of flights to Ottawa International airport left them short on resources to offer passengers.
"Ottawa airport staff were unable to provide with loading bridges or stairs that would have enabled the passengers on the Brussels flight to disembark or our ground crews to replenish the aircraft's empty drinking water reservoir," an airline spokesperson wrote in the statement.
The delays, according to Air Transat, were "mainly caused by the congestion on the ramp at the Ottawa airport and the delays in refueling [the] aircraft."
A second transatlantic flight from Rome, headed to Montreal, was also reportedly grounded on the tarmac for four hours. Passengers on this plane also contacted 911 for assistance.
However, a passenger rights advocate told CTV Montreal that Air Transat violated its own internal policy by refusing to let passengers leave the plane. Policy dictates that passengers can and should be de-planed after 90 minutes if the pilot deems it "safe."
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau assures airline passengers that the above will not continue to happen once a tabled bill is passed in the spring.
The federal government sasy Bill C-49 will oblige airlines, after three hours of immobility on a runway, to provide passengers with water, food and the ability to disembark from the aircraft when it is deemed safe. C-49 will also require airlines to explain to passengers the reasons for delays.
Members of the Standing Committee on Transport are scheduled to meet in early September before Parliament resumes sitting to consider C-49.
With files from The Canadian Press.