2 Air Transat pilots charged with being impaired before Glasgow to Toronto flight
Airline says both pilots have been suspended until investigation ends
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.
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.
TS725 Safety of our crews & passengers is our top priority. We await results of judicial proceedings before commenting on the matter. /NB—@airtransat
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."
"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