Ukrainian Milana Muzikante and Lilia Ratmanski charged with threatening Sunwing flight while drunk on the plane
The two women who caused a Sunwing flight headed to Cuba to turn back to TorontoWednesday evening — escorted by two fighter jets — are facing numerous charges.
Milana Muzikante, 26, of Vaughan, and Lilia Ratmanski, 25, of Whitby, have been charged with smoking on an aircraft and endangering the safety of an aircraft. They were set to appear in court in Brampton for a bail hearing Thursday.
Peel Regional Police Const. Thomas Ruttan said the pair will face additional charges including mischief endangering life and uttering threats.
Outside the courtroom Thursday afternoon, Ratmanski’s mother said her daughter was an A student in nursing at York who “never smokes, never drinks.”
The mother, who identified herself as a Ukrainian native, was accompanied by a family friend. Neither gave their names.
“I’m so shocked,” the mother said. “I don’t understand what has happened.”
Her mother confirmed the young woman in a photo attached to a Facebook account under the name “Lilia Lemberg” was Ratmanski. According to that account, Ratmanski is a Kyiv, Ukraine, native, now living in the GTA.
Ratmanski and Muzikante have been photographed together on Facebook, apparently on Ratmanski’s birthday. According to the social media site, they also regularly attend events and bars in the city together.
On Aug. 18, Ratmanski posted, “Somebody please recommend a good resort in Varadero I am going crazy trying to decide! 4-5 stars.” Varadero is a popular resort town in Cuba.
The flight left Toronto at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday en route to Varadero via Manzanillo, but was disrupted by “two unruly female passengers,” Sunwing said.
The women consumed a “significant quantity of their duty-free alcohol purchase in the lavatory and lit a cigarette, triggering the smoke detector alarm,” said Sunwing spokeswoman Janine Chapman. “The passengers proceeded to get into a physical altercation with each other and made a threat against the aircraft.”
The pilot decided to turn the plane around over South Carolina and “that’s when NORAD got involved,” said Maj. Julie Roberge, a spokeswoman for NORAD based in Colorado Springs, Colo.
NORAD scrambled two CF-18 fighter jets based out of Bagotville, Que., to escort Flight 656 back to Toronto. The jets met the aircraft at the Canadian border and did not venture into American airspace, Roberge said.
The CF-18 escort lasted just four minutes, she said.
The aircraft landed at Pearson airport at about 8:30 p.m. and Ruttan said the entire plane “erupted in cheers” when the two women were removed from the aircraft.
The flight took off for a second time from Toronto around 11 p.m. Wednesday with a new flight crew, Chapman said.