Mississauga airline warns people against travel to Dominican as crew detained for 6 months

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Published October 5, 2022 at 1:32 pm

pivot airlines dominican republic
Photo by Brett Sayles

As the weather gets cooler, many people think of heading south for a break but one Mississauga airline suggests skipping the Dominican Republic.

Today (Oct. 5) marks six months since a Pivot Airlines crew were detained in the Dominican Republic. The crew remains in the Dominican and its not known when they will be allowed to return home to Canada.

The ordeal began on April 5 when a member of the Pivot crew discovered the drugs and reported it to authorities in Punta Cana. The Dominican Republic’s National Directorate for Drug Control say they seized 200 packages of cocaine on the plane and decided not to let the flight crew or the passengers leave the country until they got some answers.

“Six months ago, five members of a Canadian air crew were arbitrarily detained in the Dominican Republic for reporting a crime,” said Eric Edmondson, CEO of Pivot Airlines in a statement emailed to insauga.com. “They have endured inhumane conditions, threats against their lives, and six months away from their families, their lives, and their careers – simply for doing their job.”

Pivot Airlines remains deeply concerned for the crew’s safety, and continue to do everything in our power to secure their freedom, said Edmondson.

“We have engaged governments at the highest level, conducted a third-party investigation proving their innocence, and recently filed for their case to be dismissed,” he said. “Tragically, the Dominican authorities continue to ignore the evidence and immense human impact on five Canadians who should be viewed as heroes.”

The federal government says little about their efforts to help the crew.

“Canadian officials continue to monitor the situation closely, are engaging with local authorities, and providing consular assistance,” said Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Charlotte MacLeod in an email. “Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed.”

But Edmondson is warning Canadians to reconsider any travel plans to the Dominican.

“All Canadians travelling to the Dominican Republic to vacation, should think seriously about the potential consequences,” he said. “With a total lack of whistleblower protections, any Canadian could be detained for up to six months in a foreign country, just for witnessing a crime.”

“Travel to the Dominican Republic is simply not worth the risk.”

The Canadian government travel advisory for the Dominican, updated on Oct. 1, is currently “Exercise a high degree of caution”. “Avoid non-essential travel” is a higher level of risk and “Avoid all travel” is the highest.

The advisory warns of thefts, scams, fraud and road safety. There is no mention of drug crimes.

Meanwhile, the crew detained in the Dominican awaits their next hearing on Oct. 20. It is possible the crew could face another six months in the country as the Dominican is able to hold people without charges for up to 12 months, according to Pivot Airlines.

Edmondson hopes they will be released much sooner.

“As our crew remains under considerable distress, missing irreplaceable time with their families, we are urging the Dominican authorities to recognize their innocence, and allow them to return home in time for the Thanksgiving holidays,” said Edmondson.

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