2 Air Transat pilots charged with being impaired before Glasgow to Toronto flight

Air Transat passengers whose flight was delayed after two pilots were charged with being impaired prior to leaving Glasgow say they're happy to finally arrive in Toronto.

Airline says both pilots have been suspended until investigation ends

Colin and Justin are two of the many Air Transat passengers whose flight was delayed after two pilots were charged with being impaired prior to leaving Glasgow. 1:03

Two Air Transat pilots have been suspended after being charged with being impaired prior to flying from Glasgow to Toronto Monday, the airline said Tuesday.

The drama began shortly before Flight TS725, with about 250 passengers, was to depart.

Members of the plane's flight crew noticed something wrong with the pilots and notified authorities.

After the flight landed Tuesday afternoon, the airline said the pilots had been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

"Canadian and European rules and regulations regarding alcohol consumption are very strict; our internal rules are even more stringent," Air Transat spokesman Pierre Tessier told CBC News in an email. "Any departure from these regulations is not tolerated by Air Transat.

"The safety of our crew and passengers is and will always be our top priority, and the recent event in Glasgow goes against the values of our airline," Tessier said." 
Passenger David McInnis holds up Tuesday's Scottish Sun, which put the story about impaired charges against two Canadian Air Transat pilots on its front page. McInnis said passengers weren't told Monday why their flight was delayed, and only learned about the charges through the media. (CBC)

Justin Ryan and his partner, Colin McAllister, who together form the TV design duo known as Colin & Justin, were among hundreds of passengers delayed because of the cancelled flight. 

"People were frustrated but they were also very practical," Ryan said.

McAllister said he felt the one-day delay wasn't the worst outcome.

"We're a day behind, but it's better than crashing over the Atlantic," he said. "At least they were on the ball enough to stop [the pilots] from flying the plane."

McAllister, who travels to Glasgow with Ryan about twice a month, said the delay was an inconvenience, but added the airline did its best under the circumstances.  

"It sounds like two people made a mistake and the airline actually did the right thing," he told CBC. "They made sure we weren't flying with these people and tried to take away as much of the hassle as possible."

The captain and first officer were arrested and made a brief court appearance Tuesday, according to Police Scotland.

Court documents identify the pilots as:

  • Capt. Jean-François Perreault, 39, of Ontario.
  • First officer Imran Zafar Syed, 37, of Toronto.

The Scottish Sun newspaper reported that the Crown opposed bail for the pilots. According to the paper, the  local sheriff remanded them both into custody.

Early Tuesday morning, Air Transat, a Montreal-based airline that operates both scheduled and charter flights, tweeted it would not comment until an investigation is completed.

As the plane's pilots were being taken into custody Monday, the passengers waited in the airport's departure lounge for about four hours before the flight was officially cancelled. Passengers were put up in a hotel, given a $200 travel voucher for their trouble and rebooked for Tuesday's flight. 

'I was shocked'

Some complained they weren't told the reason for the delay by Air Transat staff. It wasn't until the story was picked up in the media that they learned why the flight had been cancelled. 

"I was shocked," passenger Fahra Murad told CBC on Tuesday. "I had no idea this was the cause. We were told it was operational. They should have kept us informed."

Caroline Woodgett, whose father was supposed to be on the flight, told CBC she was also unaware the flight was delayed after the pilots were arrested for allegedly being drunk. 
Caroline Woodgett was furious to learn that the Air Transat flight that her father was on was delayed because the pilots were allegedly drunk. (CBC)

"Is that what it was?" Woodgett asked. "That's disgusting! I hope they throw them in jail and throw away the key. There's no words to describe what could have happened."

Woodgett, whose father suffers from Alzheimer's, said an Air Transat spokesman told her the passengers "had gone to local hotels but didn't know where. I called them about an hour-and-a-half later and they were able to tell me some names of the hotels."

After calling several hotels in Glasgow, Woodgett eventually tracked down her father.

With files from The Associated Press

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.