A 35-year-old Alberta man, currently residing in Summerland, faces several charges after the Kelowna International Airport received a threat to an outgoing domestic flight on Saturday afternoon.
Michael Joseph Howells has since been charged with uttering threats, public mischief, possession of a controlled substance, endangering aircraft by false information and mischief. He was publicly handcuffed in the middle of the Kelowna International Airport terminal and led away by RCMP officers around 2:30 p.m., about two hours after the plane intended to be used for the Calgary flight landed in Kelowna from Edmonton.
Kelowna RCMP received a report on Saturday at 12:24 p.m. of a possible threat specific to an outbound flight set to depart from Kelowna International Airport later that afternoon.
“The aircraft was inbound at the time of the report and, as a precaution, was diverted to a secure location away from the terminal for the ongoing safety of the public, airport personnel, and the facility,” said Const. Kris Clarke. “The luggage of the outbound flight was also isolated away from the terminal building. Both the luggage and passengers were searched but nothing of concern was located.”
Clark said the alleged threat came from a phone used inside the Kelowna airport.
Airport director Sam Samaddar said as a safety precaution, the plane later flew from Kelowna to Calgary with only the flight crew on board and the Calgary bound passengers were accommodated on other later flights. He said at no time was there a threat to the airport terminal or anyone inside. The airport continued to operate throughout the incident with just a few flights delayed. But as precaution, the plane, when it arrived from Edmonton, was diverted to the end of the runway.
RCMP said the inbound flight was never subject to the threat and police believed the aircraft and the passengers of that flight were never in danger. It was out of an abundance of caution, and for the purposes of the investigation, that the flight was isolated and the passengers and their luggage searched.
The RCMP are thanking the affected passengers for their patience and co-operation during this difficult situation.
The threat to the Calgary fight came amid heightened security at the airport in light of last week’s shooting of a Canadian soldier in Ottawa.
For a time Saturday afternoon, anyone leaving the airport terminal had to show identification. Howells was held in custody and appeared in court on Monday. He has been released from custody and will make his next court appearance on Dec. 8 in Kelowna.
-With files from Alistair Waters/Black Press