The five detained crew members are expected home in Canada soon.
The Pivot Airlines flight crew that were detained in the Dominican Republic after reporting a stash of drugs have finally been released. The five Canadian crew members will hopefully return home soon seven months after being detained by local authorities.
Pivot Airlines crew free to go
As Simple Flying readers will be familiar with, five Pivot Airlines crew were jailed for reporting a cocaine stash onboard their aircraft back in April. While they were eventually bailed from prison, they have been detained under house arrest ever since as their ordeal dragged on for months.
Now Dominican prosecutors have begun the process to release the Canadian crew members following their 220-day detention. Pivot Airlines CEO Eric Edmondson said,
“Earlier today, paperwork was filed to free the five Pivot crew members who have been detained in the Dominican Republic for 220 days after reporting suspected contraband on their aircraft. We are deeply relieved that these five Canadian will soon return home to their families and loved ones. When they return home to Canada, they will be returning as heroes.”
Photo: Pivot Airlines
While paperwork has been filed, there is no guarantee that this will be completed quickly. Edmondson said the airline has “been here before” and there are still many steps to go before the crew are home safely. Edmondson added,
“We are urging the Dominican Republic authorities to begin the process of releasing the crew without delay. Due to this uncertainty, and the very real potential for unforeseen delays, we do not yet have a timeline for the crew’s return.”
“We did the right thing”
The Pivot Airlines case caused international outrage when it first made headlines in April. Crew members reported a suspicious bag to authorities themselves following a flight from Calgary to Punta Cana, with further bags discovered amounting to over 200kg of cocaine.
Captain Rob Di Venanzo told CBC News,
“These last seven months have been the most difficult thing any of us have ever experienced. We have lived with constant uncertainty away from our loved ones and our lives. Today, the nightmare is finally one step closer to being over. Even though we have paid an unimaginable price, we know we did the right thing by reporting those drugs seven months ago.”
Dominican prosecutors had initially sought to put the Pivot crew back in prison after they were bailed, claiming that the airline was a drug-smuggling front.
Fear of reprisals
The flight crew have been moved from safe house to safe house “every few weeks” to protect them from local narco gangs enraged that they reported the drugs to authorities. Crew have faced threats and extortion attempts during their time in the country after the estimated $25 million drug bust.
CEO Edmondson told Global News,
“They’ve been in safe houses where we continue to move them. Two to three weeks was the average stay at each place. [Crew had] 24-seven armed security and faced a lot of restrictions around their free movement.”
The decision to release the crew still requires a final sign-off from Dominican courts before the process of acquiring government approval and documentation will begin. Unfortunately, this case could drag on for a few more weeks, or perhaps even months, if progress is slow.
Source: Simple Flying