Sunwing Flight 656: Cuba-Bound Flight Returns To Toronto After Fight Among Passengers

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passengers at Toronto's Pearson Airport
Passengers line-up at the baggage check-in counter at Pearson International Airport in Toronto April 13, 2012.

A fight between two drunken passengers aboard a Cuba-bound Sunwing flight forced it to return to Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Wednesday. The plane was reportedly bound for Varadero, a resort town in the province of Matanzas.

Authorities reportedly took the "two unruly female passengers” into custody and the airline confirmed that the two passengers had consumed a significant amount of their duty-free alcohol in the lavatory and also lit a cigarette, which triggered the plane's smoke alarm. The two women also reportedly "made comments that were concerning to passengers and also the pilot." The pilot of Flight 656, which was in U.S. airspace at the time, reported to North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, that the aircraft was “under threat.” 

"These passengers proceeded to get into a physical altercation with each other and made a threat against the aircraft, which was considered non-credible given their condition," Janine Chapman, vice president of marketing for the airline, reportedly said, in a statement. Sunwing is a Toronto-based low-cost airline that mainly serves vacation destinations in South America and Europe.

A police spokesperson at Toronto airport reportedly said that the two women were taken into custody immediately after the plane’s arrival, while The Associated Press reported that no charges have been filed against them.

The Sunwing flight was escorted by two of NORAD’s CF-18 fighter jets based out of Bagotville, Quebec, as a precautionary measure. “Once the aircraft was safely on the ground, the Canadian fighters returned to their home base,” NORAD said in a statement.

George Tudos, an officer with Peel Regional Police, Canada's third-largest municipal police service, told CBC News: “We are continuing the investigation to find out what happened and are speaking to witnesses who were on the flight. We take all situations seriously and we are going to make sure that plane is safe before it leaves the gate."

Chapman reportedly apologized for the inconvenience caused to the other passengers and said that the flight had been scheduled to depart from Pearson Airport at about 11 p.m. on Wednesday night with a new flight crew.

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