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UPDATE: WestJet flight threatened at Kelowna Airport; person of interest in custody

RCMP Const. Chris Clark, right, and Kelowna Airport manager Sam Samaddar speak with the media following a threat against a WestJet flight, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.
October 25, 2014 - 6:58 PM

KELOWNA – It was a long day for the passengers on a WestJet flight after a threat was phoned in Saturday afternoon. RCMP refuse to divulge the nature of the threat against the aircraft.

RCMP, firefighters and paramedics responded to the Kelowna Airport around noon.

“The threat itself, I can’t divulge the nature of the threat, was specific to a departing flight,” RCMP Const. Kris Clark told reporters gathered at the airport. “Once it landed, it was held away from the terminal.”

While police tried to figure out if the threat was real, the 98 passengers were taken off the plane and put on buses parked away from the terminal building.

Clark says RCMP, along with a police service dog, searched the plane and the passengers’ luggage. The luggage of the passengers who were preparing to board the flight was searched as well.

“Nothing of note was found,” he says.

“We are confident that the threat was not confirmed,” Clark says. “The investigation is ongoing and a person of interest has been taken into custody.”

The man arrested at the airport has not been charged.

The terror attacks in eastern Canada recently did not change the way police reacted to the threat, according to Clark.

“This is something we are trained for. There are policies and procedures are in place for instances just like this and those policies and procedures were activated.”

Members of the RCMP investigate a threat against a WestJet flight at the Kelowna Airport, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.
Members of the RCMP investigate a threat against a WestJet flight at the Kelowna Airport, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.

The passengers held on the plane and then a bus for a total of three hours weren’t happy with the RCMP’s communication and were angry they were left in danger on a plane which might have had an explosive on board.

“We were left hanging. RCMP didn’t tell us nothing,” Steve Vadnais says. “First indication we got was from the pilot who said there was a threat to the plane. We didn’t get word about a bomb threat until we were actually on off the plane and in the buses.”

Fellow passenger Mike Wasalenkoff agrees, “When we got off the plane, that’s when they told us there had been a bomb threat.”

Const. Clark wouldn’t say if it was a bomb threat, “The nature of the threat has not been divulged and that’s subject to the ongoing investigation.”

Airport manager Sam Samaddar says the emergency coordination centre was activated when the threat was received, “We have protocols in our emergency procedures to deal with this specific threat we received today.”

The airport was in operation during the police incident although Samaddar says some flights were delayed. The aircraft, subject to the threat, was flown with just a crew to Calgary Saturday afternoon.

A person of interest is taken into custody at the Kelowna Airport, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.
A person of interest is taken into custody at the Kelowna Airport, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.

Passenger Steve Vadnais was angry with what he perceived as poor communication from the RCMP during the threat investigation on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.
Passenger Steve Vadnais was angry with what he perceived as poor communication from the RCMP during the threat investigation on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at halexander@infonews.ca or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

— This story was updated at 12:56 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 to include more information from the Kelowna Airport spokesperson.

— This story was updated at 1:45 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 to include information about the plane landing safely and the RCMP search.

— This story was updated at 6:33 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 to add information from the RCMP, Kelowna Airport and passengers.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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