TORONTO – A 25-year-old man charged in connection with what authorities allege was a security incident on a flight from Toronto to Panama City is being released on $1,000 bail.
Ali Shahi is charged with uttering threats and endangering the safety of an aircraft.
He appeared in a Brampton, Ont., court on Saturday.
Sunwing Airlines says its plane turned around about 45 minutes into the flight Friday morning after a passenger allegedly made a “direct threat” to the aircraft.
Two fighter jets from NORAD were dispatched to escort the flight, carrying 183 passengers and a crew of six, back to Toronto’s Pearson airport.
Cellphone video footage from passengers aboard the flight, which was broadcast on several television networks, showed heavily armed SWAT team officers boarding the plane and shouting “heads down, hands up!”
After several hours’ delay the Sunwing flight took off again for Panama.
Capt. Jennifer Stadnyk said the jets that escorted the flight back were already in the air doing exercise flight training near Toledo, Ohio and they “shadowed” the passenger plane back to Toronto as a “precautionary measure.”
The RCMP said its national security enforcement team is assisting with the investigation.
Sunwing president Mark Williams said he was “very happy” with the way the cabin crew handled the incident.
“Crews and everyone are trained to deal with situations like that and stop them from escalating,” he said.
“People should be comforted in the fact that this situation was handled without any injuries.”
He said the airline was co-operating with the police investigation.