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Unruly passengers charged after Sunwing flight returns to Toronto

Two Toronto-area women have been charged after a disturbance forced a Sunwing flight bound for Cuba to return to Pearson International Airport under a military escort.

Peel regional police said Lilia Ratmanski, 25, of Whitby, and Milana Muzikante, 26, of Vaughan, face five charges each, including smoking on board an aircraft, endangering the safety of an aircraft, mischief endangering life, and uttering threats.

They are scheduled to appear at the Brampton courthouse on Thursday.

Const. Thomas Ruttan said the entire plane “erupted in cheers” when the two were removed from the aircraft after it arrived back at Pearson.

The airline said the flight had left Toronto at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday en route to Cuba when it was disrupted by “two unruly female passengers.”

“Two female parties caused a disturbance on-board that aircraft and also uttered some comments that were concerning to the pilot,” Const. George Tudos told 680News on Wednesday night.

Sunwing vice-president Janine Chapman said the passengers had consumed a “significant quantity of their duty free alcohol purchase in the lavatory.”

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 added in an email to The Canadian Press that the threat was considered non-credible given the condition of the passengers.

NORAD said it scrambled two CF-18 fighter jets based out of Bagotville, Que., to escort Flight 656 back to Toronto.

Major Julie Roberge, a spokeswoman for NORAD based in Colorado Springs, Colo., said the CF-18s met the aircraft at the Canadian border and did not venture into American airspace.

She said the pilot had decided to turn the plane around over South Carolina and “that’s when NORAD got involved,” adding there was no escort in U.S. airspace.

Roberge said the aircraft landed at Pearson at about 8:30 p.m. and that the CF-18 escort lasted just four minutes. She called the military escort a precautionary measure and a standard procedure in such incidents.

The video below was posted to YouTube on Thursday. It was not verified by CityNews or 680News but the title of the video is “Fighter jets escort Cuba bound flight back to Toro(nto)”

NORAD also used two American F-16 fighter jets based out of Toledo, Ohio in late July as a precautionary to escort another Sunwing flight as it returned to Toronto.

With files from Toronto staff