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An Air Canada airplane seen at Toronto Pearson International Airport, September 20, 2011. (Mark Blinch / Reuters/Mark Blinch / Reuters)
An Air Canada airplane seen at Toronto Pearson International Airport, September 20, 2011. (Mark Blinch / Reuters/Mark Blinch / Reuters)

RIM suspends employees fined $71,000 after drunken flight debacle Add to ...

Two employees of BlackBerry producer Research In Motion are on the hook for a court-ordered $71,757 payment to Air Canada after their alcohol-fuelled behaviour earlier this week forced a Beijing-bound flight to land at Vancouver airport.

The pair – 45-year-old George Campbell of Conestogo, Ont., and Paul Alexander Wilson, 38, of Kitchener – have also been suspended from work, a RIM spokeswoman said.

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The situation that occurred during Monday’s flight from Toronto was so dire the pair had to be restrained by airline crew, the RCMP said.

Mr. Campbell and Mr. Wilson pleaded guilty to mischief Tuesday at a court appearance in Richmond, where the Vancouver airport is located, and received suspended sentences and probation for a year, the RCMP said.

Marisa Conway, a New York-based RIM spokeswoman, responded to the situation in a brief statement issued to The Globe and Mail.

“Based on the limited information available at this time, RIM has suspended the individuals involved pending further investigation,” said Ms. Conway, a senior account director with Brodeur Partners.

She said RIM, based in Waterloo, Ont., would have no further comment on the matter. She would not say what the two men did at RIM.

On Monday at about 6:30 p.m., Richmond RCMP received a report that an Air Canada flight, en route from Toronto to Beijing, was being diverted to the Vancouver airport after two passengers had to be restrained by airline crew.

RCMP officers boarded the flight and escorted the passengers off the plane, arresting them in the process.

The pair will each pay half of the $71,757, said Corporal Sherrdean Turley of the RCMP detachment in Richmond.

Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah, asked about the steep restitution, said diverting flights is costly, and it is common for the parties involved to bear the costs.

She declined comment on restitution costs in this particular case. However, costs in such cases would generally include fuel, landing fees, crew costs and accommodating passengers.

Ms. Mah said the crew members involved in the incident were not injured, and such behaviour is extremely rare among the 32-million passengers the carrier transports each year.

“Our crews are trained to monitor in-flight service and to detect overconsumption of alcohol in order to avoid such situations,” she said. “It’s also fair to say the crew are trained to handle any variety of situations they might encounter in a flight.”

Cpl. Turley said the case was unusual because crew had to actually restrain the passengers and the flight had to be diverted.

She said she did not have access to any information that might have been revealed in court to explain the conduct of the two individuals.







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