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Women charged after plane disruption prompts military escort

A Boeing 737 (737-800) jetliner belonging to Sunwing Airlines takes off from Calgary, Alberta. The disruptive behaviour of a pair of female passengers aboard a commercial jet travelling from Toronto to Cuba prompted the North American Aerospace Defence Command to dispatch two fighter jets to escort the aircraft back to Pearson International Airport on Wednesday.

LARRY MACDOUGAL/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Two Toronto-area women are facing charges after the disruptive behaviour of two passengers aboard a commercial jet travelling from Toronto to Cuba prompted the North American Aerospace Defence Command to dispatch two fighter jets to escort the aircraft back to Pearson International Airport.

Lilia Ratmanski, 25, of Whitby, and Milana Muzikante, 26, of Vaughan, have each been charged with smoking on board an aircraft, endangering the safety of an aircraft, mischief, mischief endangering life and uttering threats, according to Constable Thomas Ruttan of Peel Police.

The two passengers aboard Sunwing Flight 656, an afternoon flight to Manzanillo, Cuba, had consumed a "significant quantity of their duty free alcohol purchase in the lavatory," Sunwing vice-president Janine Chapman said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

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She said they lit a cigarette, triggering the smoke alarm, and "proceeded to get into a physical altercation with each other and made a threat against the aircraft."

Chapman said the threat was not considered credible given the condition of the passengers, but NORAD dispatched to fighter jets to escort the aircraft as a precaution.

On the flight's return to Pearson International, the two passengers were arrested by Peel Regional Police officers, said a police department spokesperson.

"Their actions and something they said had some concern for the passengers," Constable George Tudos of the Peel Regional Police said on Wednesday evening.

"We waited for the plane to arrive. The parties were arrested."

In a statement, NORAD said it diverted two CF-18 fighter jets based out of Bagotville, Que., to escort the Sunwing plane as a precautionary measure. Once the passenger jet was on the ground, the Canadian fighter jets returned to their home base in Quebec.

Ms. Ratmanski and Ms. Muzikante will appear in Brampton court Thursday.

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With a report from Kat Sieniuc

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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