Passengers onboard an Air Canada flight bound for St. John’s earlier this week spent close to seven hours in the air and were brought back to Toronto after “several” attempts to land.
The airline confirmed to CTV News Toronto on Thursday that flight AC698 was on its way to Atlantic Canada on Feb. 5 when the pilot encountered “crosswinds” near the airport and eventually made the decision to turn around.
“This was based on several factors. First, safety is and will always be our prime consideration, this is something customers also fully agree with,” a spokesperson said in an email, adding that severe winter weather in Atlantic Canada made it difficult to land anywhere else in the region.
According to the flight tracking website FlightAware.com, AC698 left Toronto at 9:43 p.m. for a trip that typically lasts a little over three hours.
However, the flight log shows the plane was actually in the air for six hours and 37 minutes and returned to Toronto after making a number of circles around St. John’s International Airport in an attempt to land.
Air Canada said the pilot made the “correct decision” in returning to Toronto and that the airline anticipates weather changes on flights like this one and prepares accordingly with extra fuel.
Moreover, Air Canada said that for customers on board, many of whom were from Toronto, returning to Pearson airport was the best option due to the difficulty of finding accommodation late at night.
“The primary consideration in this case was to maintain safety throughout,” the airline said.