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Air Canada scare well handled, says Griffith

The Government agency charged with maintaining and promoting Barbados’ brand as a tourism destination has given two thumbs up to emergency services officials for their handling of this week’s scare aboard an Air Canada flight.

Police, fire and medical personnel were called in anticipation of flight #AC1966 after a passenger had reportedly caused a disturbance during the flight. Barbados TODAY investigations have since revealed that the individual who caused the scare is Barbadian-born Rodney Powlett, who has been living in Canada for over 40 years.

Although the 66-year-old man was restrained before the airplane touched down at Grantley Adams International Airport, the emergency personnel here took no chances.

After the flight landed around 1:40 p.m. on Tuesday,it would be another two hours or more before the remaining 113 passengers would be allowed to disembark, as the man causing the disturbance was taken away.

Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) William Billy Griffith said the authorities handled the situation well, something for which the marketing agency was thankful.

“I think that the authorities who were responsible handled it in a way that they were supposed to and we are very appreciative of it. I think that is their job and I think that there is nothing more to say than that. We, certainly from a tourism standpoint, are appreciative of [how it was handled],” the tourism executive said.

The ordeal began about 90 minutes after the flight left Toronto’s Pearson International Airport at 8:35 a.m. with 114 passengers for the five-hour journey when the passenger, who was described by Air Canada officials as “unruly”, and by Barbadian police as “disruptive”, began pacing the isle and muttering threats.

Some of the passengers and the flight attendants managed to restrain the man – and handed him over to police after the flight landed.

“Obviously from a tourism standpoint we obviously divert to whoever the security authorities who deal with these types of situations are and I am certainly happy it was resolved in a way that was good for all,” Griffith said.

Asked to send a message to anyone who might be thinking of doing something similar in the future, Griffith said: “There is no message really.

“I think what has happened [on Tuesday] is not unusual anywhere on any island in any part of the world. So I am saying that as far as I am aware the authorities and the security personnel did their job in the way they were supposed to and the situation was handled; and I think that we just need to go on with our business of pressing for tourism,” the CEO insisted.

When contacted, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy declined to comment.

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