'No communication' from Swoop after cigarette smoke forces plane to land in Regina: passenger
No one hurt, but presence of fire trucks and police 'a little unnerving,' says passenger
James Beardsley said he was standing outside Regina International Airport early Thursday morning when he saw his plane turn around and fly off.
Beardsley was one of the passengers on a Swoop plane carrying travellers from London, Ont., to Edmonton, when cigarette smoke in the cabin forced the plane to make an unscheduled landing in Regina Wednesday night.
"We didn't hear anything. We didn't know whether we were going back on the plane," said Beardsley, who was on his way to work at a gold mine operation in Nunavut.
Beardsley said the captain mentioned the smoke but nothing else was really said. He recalled a "disturbance" before the landing, and the flight crew wearing breathing masks.
The Boeing 737 landed in Regina around 11:45 p.m. CST on Wednesday. No one was injured.
In a statement emailed to CBC News Thursday morning, a Swoop spokesperson confirmed that it was cigarette smoke in the plane's cabin that forced the landing.
"Failing to find the source of cigarette smoke the plane was safely diverted to Regina," the statement said.
The airline "is currently working with authorities and select travellers were interviewed, given smoking is illegal on any aircraft," the statement said.
"Swoop's number one priority is safety and our pilots followed proper operations protocol given the situation."
"I wasn't too worried until we touched down and all the fire trucks and the police were out on the tarmac waiting for us. That was a little unnerving," said passenger Dave McCorkle, who was on his way from West Lorne, Ont., to Calgary for a wedding.
"And then they were saying it was cigarette smoke. Nobody knew and then the lights came on, and a few minutes later we started descending to land and they told us were were coming into Regina."
Regina fire crews, the Regina Police Service and EMS were on scene because the airport activated its emergency protocols, said James Bogusz, CEO of the Regina Airport Authority.
The landing is irregular because Swoop doesn't typically fly into the city, he added.
Bogusz said the Swoop plane departed from the airport around 4 a.m. CST on Thursday without its passengers.
Passengers were provided with a hotel room and food vouchers, Swoop's statement said. The airline also said a WestJet flight would be provided to complete the journey to Edmonton on Thursday.
Beardsley said it was WestJet, Swoop's parent company, which approached the passengers after the landing. WestJet had hotels for them but no news, he said.
Beardsley, who missed his connecting flight north, said he'll now be out of pocket to stay in Edmonton for five days until the next flight.
"It was very mishandled," he said. "There was no communication."
With files from Radio-Canada's Nicolas Duny and Sophie Chevance