MONTREAL — More than 100 Quebec tourists who had been trapped in Haiti amid violent street protests were flown back to Montreal on Saturday.
An Air Transat flight carrying the 113 passengers, along with a few people from other airlines, landed at Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport just after 9 p.m.
Helicopter evacuations began early Saturday morning to take the travellers in small groups from a resort hotel on the Caribbean country's Cote des Arcadins to the airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
Air Transat said the Quebec and Canadian governments helped co-ordinate the evacuation effort.
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"Our customers, as well as their loved ones, have lived a challenging and uncertain week," spokeswoman Annick Guerard said in a statement.
"Since the rise of tensions in Haiti, our teams have been mobilized and working hard to repatriate our customers safely and as quickly as possible."
Normand Rosa, one of the guests at the hotel, said Saturday morning that the helicopter evacuations from the hotel were "rolling smoothly."
Rosa said he was glad Transat had finally given in to pressure to bring the vacationers to the airport, after the company said earlier in the week that logistics and security prevented it from doing so.
He said that while the hotel staff had been accommodating and he'd never felt unsafe, it was time to return home.
"It's better to evacuate before it deteriorates further," he said in a phone interview.
Other Canadians still stuck
Protests demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise have claimed several lives over the past week.
Protesters are angry about skyrocketing inflation and the government's failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion-dollar Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.
Other Canadians stuck in Haiti have also been making their way to the airport by way of helicopter flights or harrowing road journeys.
An Ottawa doctor and three health professionals from New Brunswick endured a nerve-wracking seven-and-a-half hour trip that ended with the group hiring an ambulance driver to secure safe passage to the airport on Friday.
Reached Saturday from a stopover in Philadelphia, Dr. Emilio Bazile said he felt lucky to have escaped with only a few bruises from flying rocks that also damaged a vehicle.