Five Canadian crewmembers of start-up Pivot Airlines have been released on bail from prison in the Dominican Republic, says the Mississauga, Ontario-based airline.
However, they must remain in the country.
And the airline is upping the ante, warning Canadians not to travel to the Caribbean nation.
That’s the latest development in a made-for-Hollywood style story involving the discovery and seizure of 200 kilos of cocaine on a Pivot charter flight from the DR to Canada early in APR.
As Open Jaw reported, the Dominican Republic’s drug control agency seized 11 people, including nine Canadians, of whom five are crew members, as well as Pivot Airlines’ aircraft, pending an investigation.
Pivot Airlines told media from the outset that it was the aircrew who found the drugs on the passenger jet and notified local authorities at Punta Cana International Airport. However, the crew were swept up in the arrests that followed.
The airline retained legal counsel for the crew members detained in Punta Cana.
“Our primary concern is our crew’s safety, security, ethical and humane treatment as we seek to ensure their safe return to Canada,” the airline said at the time.
One of the airline's biggest concerns as the investigations continue has been the safety of the crewmembers who it says discovered the drugs and blew the whistle to authorities. It says they were being detained alongside the potential smugglers, endangering their lives.
“The continued prosecution and credible threats to the lives of our crew in the Dominican Republic raise serious concerns for all those travelling to the country, including those considering vacationing in the Dominican Republic,” a Pivot Airlines spokesperson said.
The airline took the serious step of suggesting Canadians avoid the Caribbean nation.
“We believe this incident should cause all travellers to consider making alternative travel plans.”