OTTAWA, Aug. 1, 2017 /CNW/ - Severe weather in both Toronto and Montreal last evening, resulted in 20 aircraft being diverted to the Ottawa International Airport, beginning at approximately 3:45 pm. Of the 20 flights, 15 were from international destinations, and included nearly 5,000 passengers. The last plane departed at approximately 11:00 pm.
Questions have been raised with respect to one particular flight operated by Air Transat, between Brussels, Belgium and Montreal, Quebec. The aircraft landed in Ottawa at 5:10 pm and departed at 11:00 pm. With respect to this flight, the Airport Authority was in contact with the airline's local ground handler. We had a gate available and air stairs ready in the event that the airline decided to deplane. We also had buses on the tarmac ready to shuttle passengers to the terminal – buses the Authority purchased specifically for situations such as this. Neither the ground handling service nor the airline requested either of these during the event.
At approximately 9:00 pm, the Authority and the City of Ottawa's 9-1-1 dispatch centre received several calls from passengers on the aircraft requesting medical assistance. As such, a full emergency response was activated including Airport Emergency Response Service, Ottawa Paramedic Services and Ottawa Police Service. One passenger was treated. Once in the aircraft, Airport Authority personnel realized that the aircraft had no operating air conditioning. We made arrangements for bottled water to be delivered to the aircraft and distributed by Authority personnel. We also offered to bring fans to the aircraft to help cool it. Our staff also suggested to the flight crew that all doors on the aircraft be open to permit fresh air to enter the aircraft.
In response to a frantic passenger whose pet was kennelled in the cargo hold of the aircraft, the Airport Authority coordinated with Canada Border Services Agency to provide water to the dog and ensure it was in no danger.
While the responsibility for deciding whether a flight is deplaned and processed through Canada Customs rests entirely with the airline, the Ottawa Airport has a comprehensive Customer Care Program that is ready for deployment as needed. Our team was on standby shortly after the first diversion landed, but our services were not requested. We keep a supply of water, food, diapers and other personal hygiene necessities to support passenger needs in irregular operation scenarios, and were prepared to deploy these supplies. Although our staff tried several times to contact the aircrew through the handlers to provide further assistance, the air crew was non-communicative and did not take us up on our offers to assist further.
Providing the best possible customer experience is a priority for the Ottawa International Airport Authority, and we are disappointed that Air Transat has not been forthcoming, transparent or accountable with information concerning their diverted flights. We understand the Minister of Transport is developing legislation to clarify the responsibilities of air carriers with a view to strengthening passenger rights. Bill C-49, which was introduced in May of this year, will be studied in Parliament beginning in September.
About the Ottawa International Airport Authority
OMCIAA manages, operates and develops airport facilities and lands in support of the economic growth of the National Capital Region, generating more than $2.2 billion annually in total economic activity in Ottawa and Gatineau.
SOURCE Ottawa International Airport Authority
For further information: Krista Kealey, Vice-President, Communications and Public Affairs, 613-248-2050, Krista.Kealey@YOW.ca