Pi­lots held for sus­pected drink­ing be­fore Glas­gow to Toronto flight

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - PAOLA LORIG­GIO

Two television per­son­al­i­ties whose flight from Scot­land to Toronto was post­poned by a day af­ter both pi­lots were ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of drunk­en­ness said they were frus­trated by the de­lay but re­lieved that their safety wasn’t jeop­ar­dized.

Colin McAl­lis­ter and Justin Ryan — best known for their in­te­rior de­sign shows on HGTV and other net­works — were among the pas­sen­gers whose travel plans were de­railed by the ar­rest of two Air Transat pi­lots at Glas­gow Air­port on Monday, shortly be­fore the flight was due to take off.

“The air­line ac­tu­ally did the right thing, they made sure that we weren’t fly­ing with th­ese peo­ple, they made sure that peo­ple were looked af­ter last night and I think they tried to take away as much of the has­sle as pos­si­ble,” McAl­lis­ter said af­ter they landed at Toronto’s Pear­son air­port.

The pair, who are from Glas­gow but also own homes in Toronto and the Muskoka re­gion, said pas­sen­gers were wait­ing for hours in the air­port lounge be­fore the flight was of­fi­cially can­celled due to “op­er­a­tional” is­sues.

“We all thought it was a tech­ni­cal is­sue but it turns out it was hu­man er­ror,” McAl­lis­ter said.

Air Transat con­firmed two crew mem­bers were ar­rested but de­clined to com­ment fur­ther, say­ing it will “await the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings.”

Po­lice in Scot­land said the pi­lots, aged 37 and 39, were charged with be­ing “im­paired through al­co­hol.”

The BBC iden­ti­fied them as Im­ran Za­far Syed and Jean-Fran­cois Per­rault. The Scot­tish Sun news­pa­per re­ported that the pair was charged un­der sec­tion 93 of the United King­dom’s Rail­way and Trans­port Safety Act.

That reg­u­la­tion pre­cludes peo­ple from con­duct­ing avi­a­tion func­tions “at a time when the pro­por­tion of al­co­hol in (their) breath, blood or urine ex­ceeds the pre­scribed limit.”

The news­pa­per said the pi­lots were de­nied bail af­ter be­ing deemed a flight risk.

Cana­dian avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit any air­craft crew mem­bers from work­ing while in­tox­i­cated or within eight hours af­ter hav­ing an al­co­holic drink.

The Air Line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion, In­ter­na­tional, which rep­re­sents air­line pi­lots, said it does not com­ment on on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions but stressed that in­stances of sub­stance abuse are “ex­tremely rare” among its roughly 53,000 pi­lot mem­bers, in­clud­ing those who fly for Air Transat.

“The air­line pilot­ing pro­fes­sion in North Amer­ica is one of the most highly scru­ti­nized ca­reers, and air­line pi­lots’ pro­fes­sion­al­ism has con­trib­uted to mak­ing fly­ing the safest form of trans­port for pas­sen­gers and air cargo ship­pers,” the as­so­ci­a­tion said in an email.

Pas­sen­gers were put up in ho­tels while they waited for a new flight to Toronto on Tues­day, the air­line said.

McAl­lis­ter said they were also given an air­line voucher worth a few hun­dred dol­lars and that, for the most part, pas­sen­gers seemed to take the dis­rup­tion in stride.

But oth­ers took is­sue with what they con­sid­ered a lack of trans­parency from the air­line.

“When we ar­rived this morn­ing, they didn’t give us any fur­ther in­for­ma­tion un­til we saw it in the news­pa­per,” said Fahra Murad, who lives in Toronto. “They should have kept us in­formed from the be­gin­ning so that we knew what we were fac­ing up against.”

Murad said the de­lay cost her a day of va­ca­tion since she wasn’t able to re­turn to work on sched­ule.

Air Transat runs char­ter and sched­uled flights be­tween Canada and sev­eral Euro­pean and Caribbean des­ti­na­tions.

BERNARD WEIL, TORONTO STAR

Colin McAl­lis­ter and Justin Ryan, Scot­tish in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tors and television pre­sen­ters, ar­rive at Pear­son Air­port. The pair were aboard the flight who’s pi­lots were ar­rested on the plane.

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