Cancun, Q.R. — Only 27 of the approximate 130 passengers on the Sunwing flight from Montreal to Cancun have returned home to Canada. The balance of the passengers continue to remain stranded in Cancun at their own expense.
The arriving 27 were interrogated after returning to Canada. “They were all stopped and interrogated at the air border. They were then all tested. They were checked with regards to whether they had obeyed and followed all the health regulations that they were supposed to follow throughout their trip,” said Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
Duclos provided an update Friday regarding the December 30 party flight from Montreal to Cancun.
The incident is currently being investigated by Transport Canada and the Quebec Police department. The federal government also released a statement saying that all on board will be held accountable.
It was not clear how the 27 arrived back in Canada, however, Air Canada did say that they were successful in stopping 19 from the Sunwing flight from boarding theirs on January 5. However, they also said that “Air Canada has not been provided with the Sunwing passenger manifest, making it difficult to prevent passengers from that flight boarding our aircraft.”
In his Friday update, Health Minister Duclos said that the group of 27 took four different flights home, but he didn’t say on which airlines.
In his Friday briefing, Duclos said “we know that this issue of Sunwing travelers having behaved irresponsibly, inexcusably and unacceptably on a flight to Mexico [has] raised a lot of anger and frustration.”
The organizer of the charter flight, James Williams, says that although he has “significantly learned” from the ordeal, he doesn’t understand why the airlines are refusing to fly them home.
One of the stranded Montreal passengers, 19-year-old Rebecca St Pierre, told the Canadian Press Wednesday, that she tested positive for covid-19. She said she was not sure how she was going to pay for an extended hotel stay.
During her interview with the Canadian Press, she estimated about 30 people from the plane had also tested positive. St Pierre is in isolation in a facility in Tulum. She said that some travelers had planned to put Vaseline up their nose for their return trip in an effort to thwart Covid testing.
The group were denied their return flight to Canada on January 5, after refusing Sunwing’s conditions, some of which included no in-flight meals, requiring them to be sober while on board, to remain seated unless using the bathroom and to allow security staff to fly with them at Awad’s expense. Awad said he agreed to the conditions, except for the lack of in-flight meals.
The balance of the Montreal group remains stranded in Cancun at their own expense.