Pivot Airlines is cautioning pilots and travelers against traveling to the Dominican Republic after five crew members and seven passengers have been detained for nearly a month by local authorities.
Do not go to the Dominican Republic
The management of Pivot Airlines, a Canadian charter carrier based in Mississauga, has warned about heading to the Dominican Republic following a police investigation that has led to the jailing of cabin crew members and passengers.
In a statement, Pivot Airlines said,
“The continued prosecution and credible threats to the lives of our crew in the Dominican Republic raise serious concerns for all those traveling to the country, including those considering vacationing in the Dominican Republic. We believe this incident should cause all travelers to consider making alternative travel plans. ”
The Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), North America’s largest commercial aviator’s union, has also warned against traveling to the Dominican Republic.
ALPA Canada cautioned airline crews and any ALP members flying in and out of the Caribbean country to exercise extra vigilance and maintain the highest levels of awareness.
On April 5, 2022, while conducting a commercial air charter, members of a Pivot Airlines crew discovered suspected contraband in a maintenance compartment of the aircraft, a Bombardier CRJ-100ER, registration C-FWRR. They were doing their normal duties at the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ).
They contacted local authorities and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police following the discovery.
The Dominican police detained the crew members and passengers of the flight. Since then, they have been in the Caribbean country and spent time in jail before being released on US $ 23,000 jail; nonetheless, they are unable to leave the country at the moment. The prosecutors later appealed the bail.
Eric Edmondson, Chief Executive Officer at Pivot Airlines, said last week,
“Under Dominican laws, you can be detained WITHOUT charges or the assumption of guilt for 12 months in complex cases during an investigation. The pilots and other crew members spent several days in a horrific detention center only to be released on bail under the condition of remaining in the DR, all while being publicly identified and labeled as whistleblowers. ”
The crew has received death threats and has been subject to unsafe and inhumane treatment, said ALPA.
The aircraft was detained at Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic. Photo: Punta Cana International Airport.
The Dominican Republic has previously detained traffickers smuggling cocaine via aircraft out of their country.
According to a local media outlet, the Pivot Airlines case is reminiscent of a 2013 drug scandal called Air Cocaine.
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On March 19, 2013, the National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD) detained a Falcon 50 jet with 26 suitcases stuffed with drugs bound for France via the Azores islands. The two French pilots were sentenced to six years in prison. Nonetheless, the court freed the two pilots last year and upheld the sentences against the directors of the aviation company.
In both cases, the crew members claimed their innocence.
Moreover, in the Pivot Airlines case, by locating the contraband onboard the aircraft, “The crew also contributed to air safety by preventing a possible onboard fire or electrical problems that could have resulted in a catastrophic air disaster,” said ALPA.
The Canadian Government, through Global Affairs Canada, is aware of the incident and is monitoring the situation.
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