Originally appeared on BNN.ca Aug. 4, 2017
Air Transat found itself in the middle of another public relations nightmare this week.
The airline had to answer to angry passengers who were stranded on an Ottawa runway for six hours, at times without air conditioning, on Monday after their Montreal-bound flight was diverted.
It’s another blow for Transat, which has had to answer for a few incidents over the years.
Here’s a look at some of the most notable.
The Azores Landing: Aug. 24, 2001
The incident: Air Transat Flight 236 – en route from Toronto to Lisbon – declared a fuel emergency mid-flight, forcing an emergency landing at a U.S. Air Force base on Terceira Island in the Azores Islands. The plane was able to glide to a landing at the base from a reported 85 miles out, with all passengers surviving.
Passengers said: “I heard the engines cut out,” Agostinho Romeiro, 57, told The Globe and Mail. “I thought of my daughters I left behind.”
Officials said: A report of the incident deemed that the pilots “did not correctly evaluate the situation before taking action,” but added, “There was not a clear, unambiguous indication or warning that a critical fuel leak existed.”
The Missing Rudder: March 6, 2005
The incident: Air Transat flight 961 en route from Veradero, Cuba to Quebec City with 270 passengers and crew lost a 28-foot rudder into the sea. The pilot was able to return the aircraft to Veradero and land while steering with its wings and tail flaps.
An industry insider said: “This just isn’t supposed to happen,” a former Airbus pilot, who worked for another airline, told The Observer. “No one I know has ever seen an airliner’s rudder disintegrate like that. It raises worrying questions about the materials and build of the aircraft, and about its maintenance and inspection regime.”
Transat said: “Preliminary observations indicate that a portion of the rudder detached from the aircraft as the flight was progressing under normal conditions at its cruising altitude,” it said in a statement.
Under the Influence: July 18, 2016
The incident: Two Transat pilots were arrested and charged with being alcohol-impaired after “threatening and abusive behaviour” at Glasgow Airport before they were due for take-off to Toronto.
Passengers said: “We are both pretty upset and disappointed,” traveler Sarah West told The Star. “Who knew hazards of trans-Atlantic dating involved drunken pilots?”
Transat said: “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,” Spokesperson Pierre Tessier said. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our passengers.”
Dietary Restriction Restrictions: Aug. 23, 2016
The incident: Transat announced last August that it would no longer provide specialty meals to passengers with dietary restrictions or religious needs. The airline said its EuroBistro menu would cover many alternate dietary needs, but those whose needs were not met would need to bring food aboard or upgrade to club class.
Passengers said: “When you have a special diet need, travelling can be very difficult,” traveler Maxime Pelletier told The Canadian Press. “I cannot eat in restaurants most of the time. I need to book hotels and stay where I have access to a kitchen so I can cook my own meals. So having this meal provided to me in airplanes where I know it’s safe really makes travelling a lot easier.”
Transat said: Spokeswoman Debbie Cabana said a limited supply of gluten-free “product” would be available on flights, but that it could not be pre-ordered. “These sandwiches are now more fresh and healthy, and the portion is more generous,” Cabana said. “For us, it’s a good change for the passengers.”
‘The Mexican Game’: June 1, 2017
The incident: A CBC report alleged that Air Transat had “instructed a Canadian charter airline to mislead aviation authorities and its passengers about unscheduled stops on flights from Mexico,” according to email sources. The diversions were part of advertised “direct” flights and were often for refueling purposes.
Passengers said: “It’s one thing to be forthcoming with a route change, but to not inform guests of this blatant reroute is both immoral and deceiving,” passenger Brendan Milne wrote to CBC after his Cancun-to-Edmonton flight stopped in Calgary.
Transat said: “It is … important to clarify that we do not promote our flights as non-stop and, as you must know, direct flights may entail stops along the way,” the airline reportedly wrote in an email to CBC.