The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has ordered Air Transat to explain why passengers were driven to call 911 for help as they sat in packed aircraft for up to six hours on afternoon and evening in Ottawa. The agency, an independent quasi-judicial body that rules on complaints about air, rail and marine transportation services, heard from people aboard the aircraft, which were supposed to land in Montreal but were diverted for weather. A packed A330 that had already spent seven hours in the air coming from Brussels sat on the ramp for another six hours with the doors shut tight on the more than 300 passengers and crew on board. The water supply ran out and the air conditioning was shut down when the aircraft ran low on fuel. At least one passenger called 911 and police, fire and ambulance personnel responded to treat people with breathing problems and other disorders associated with the heat.
Air Transat blamed the Ottawa Airport, saying it didn’t have enough services for all the aircraft that were diverted there. Ottawa Airport begged to differ and there were some tense tweets and countertweets going back and forth. Meanwhile, the CTA says it will sort through everyone’s stories and figure out how to avoid similar issues in the future. “This inquiry will determine, based on the evidence and the law, whether the treatment of passengers on the two flights was in line with the airline’s obligations — and if not, what corrective measures should be ordered,” CTA Chair and CEO Scott Streiner said in a statement.