MONTREAL — Two jets collided on the ground at a Toronto airport on Friday, setting the tail of one aircraft alight and prompting passengers to evacuate the other via an emergency slide.
Both WestJet and Sunwing confirmed that their planes were involved in the collision at 18:19 local time (23:19 GMT) at Toronto Pearson International, the second such incident at the airport in five months.
Several hours after the collision the airport said all WestJet passengers were safely at the terminal, adding that one of the airport’s fire and emergency service personnel was undergoing hospital treatment.
“At this time, airport operations have not been significantly affected by the incident but continue to be challenged by the extreme cold weather conditions,” the airport’s statement said.
The panicked shouts and cries of those aboard were audible on one Instagram video shot by a passenger inside the WestJet plane.
The clip showed flames erupting from the Sunwing aircraft, sending black smoke spewing into the frigid night air.
“Our plane was crashed into by another plane right after the pilot announced they were ‘low on staff,’” wrote the user who posted the video, under the handle stephen_belford.
WestJet said on Twitter that the Boeing 737-800 plane had 168 guests and six crew onboard, and had arrived in Toronto via Cancun.
Waiting to proceed to the gate, the aircraft “was struck by a Sunwing aircraft pushing back from the gate,” WestJet said.
“Due to the position of the aircraft on the laneway, WestJet guests required evacuation via emergency slide. Emergency crews were on hand and responded immediately,” the airline tweeted.
The company did not specify if the incident resulted in injuries but said “all 168 guests and six crew are accounted for”.
“We can confirm guests are safely in the terminal and they are in the process of clearing customs.”
In a statement posted on its social media pages Sunwing said “there were no Sunwing crew or passengers onboard at the time of the incident”, adding that its aircraft had been “under tow by our ground handling service provider” prior to the collision.
Toronto’s weather was clear Friday night as the temperature plunged close to -20ºC.
The Transportation Safety Board had arrived at the scene and launched an investigation.
The collision is the second such incident at Toronto Pearson in recent months.
In early August, a Canadian and a Polish passenger jet clipped wings on the ground at the airport, causing “serious” damage but no casualties.