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Transport Canada fines passengers on Sunwing party flight

6 passengers who were not fully vaccinated have received fines that could reach a maximum of $5,000
A Sunwing Boeing 737-800 passenger plane prepares to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Passengers are paying a pricey penalty for partying onboard a Sunwing flight last year that devolved into a raucous onboard soirée.

The federal Transport Department said Tuesday it issued unspecified fines against six passengers.

Videos of the charter voyage from Montreal to Cancun, Mexico, shared on social media show unmasked passengers in close proximity singing and dancing in the aisle and on seats as some clutch bottles of liquor, snap selfies and vape.

A half-dozen passengers who were not fully vaccinated when they boarded have now received penalties that could reach a maximum of $5,000 each, Transport Canada said. Under COVID-19 rules, all passengers must be fully vaccinated to board a flight departing the country.

“Certain behaviours reported in connection with the flight on Dec. 30, 2021, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a release. “Aviation rules must be respected by everyone, for the sake of everyone’s safety.”

Transport Canada launched an investigation on Jan. 4 to determine whether travellers violated laws or regulations around aviation safety and security.

Sunwing has said in an email that passengers — some were Quebec-based social media influencers — violated aviation regulations and public health rules via “unruly behaviour,” prompting an internal probe.

The flight took off about two weeks after the federal government advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada.

The organizer of the controversial trip said in late January that Sunwing unfairly abandoned his group in Mexico.

James William Awad told reporters that the Toronto-based airline, along with Air Canada and Air Transat, should be “ashamed” of themselves for refusing to fly the young travellers back to Canada based on videos of the flight that circulated online.

The airlines stranded 154 Canadians in the Yucatán Peninsula without knowing whether they could afford to keep paying for hotels and food, he said.

Weeks earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the group as “idiots” and barbarians.

—Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

RELATED: 27 out of 130 passengers on Sunwing party flight to Mexico back in Canada: Duclos