NEWS

WestJet Flight Makes Emergency Landing Due To Threat

06/29/2015 10:36 EDT | Updated 06/29/2016 05:59 EDT
WestJet has received another threat just as police were trying to determine if three previous threats to Canadian flights in one week were related.

The airline said late Tuesday that it had received a bomb threat for Flight WS323 from Toronto to Saskatoon. WestJet said the flight landed in Saskatoon and that 113 passengers and five crew had left the aircraft via stairs and were boarding buses to the terminal.

On Monday night, six passengers were injured after a WestJet flight en route from Edmonton to Toronto was diverted to Winnipeg because of a threat.

Manitoba RCMP Sgt. Bert Paquet wouldn't specify the nature of the threat made Monday night involving Flight WS422.

"(The threat) came from outside the plane or the flight itself and we are looking to establish the origin of the call and the person responsible for it," he said Tuesday.

The plane, passengers and baggage were searched by explosive experts and an RCMP canine unit, Paquet said. Nothing suspicious was found.

WestJet said the six passengers who were hurt sustained minor injuries. All 54 passengers and five crew on the flight were evacuated from the plane shortly after landing, the company said.

"The flight crew, in conjunction with our Operations Control Centre, made the decision to divert the aircraft to Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport," Robert Palmer, a spokesman for the company, said in an emailed statement.

"In order to evacuate the aircraft as quickly as possible, the crew made the decision to deploy the emergency evacuation slides...A number were taken to hospital for further treatment accompanied by members of WestJet's Special Assistance Team."

The passengers were put up in hotels and arrived Tuesday in Toronto, describing the scene.

People moved quickly but "everybody was pretty cool," said Murray Hill of Midland, Ont., who used the slide at the back of the plane.

The crew decided to deploy the slides instead of wait for stair cars to unload passengers, Hill said, but not all passengers used the slide, choosing instead to jump off the wing of the plane. Some of the people who jumped were among those injured, he said.

While "concerned" about the situation, Hill said he was eager to give the slide a try.

"I was excited about it. I said 'I've seen this on TV, I can do this,'" he said after landing in Toronto.

Ben, who didn't want to give his last name, said it "was a bit of a scramble."

"We got off the plane, there was no slide or anything we just jumped off the wings," he said.

That WestJet incident was the third threat involving a flight in the last week. RCMP were working with other police agencies to determine if the incidents are related, Paquet said.

A WestJet flight from Edmonton to Halifax landed in Saskatoon after a threat Saturday morning.

Police said a call had been made claiming an explosive device was on board, but the report turned out to be false.

Last Thursday, St. John's International Airport was temporarily closed because of a bomb threat on an Air Canada flight.

The airport authority said it took the action after Air Canada Flight 143 departing from St. John's to Ottawa was notified about a possible bomb on board as the aircraft was pulling back from the gate.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary spokesman Steve Curnew said Friday that the flight was about to leave when a note identified as a possible bomb threat was found in one of the plane's washrooms.

Nothing suspicious was found in a search of the plane.