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Airline wants drunken passenger to pay $17,000 for gas bill after plane forced to make emergency landing

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A Canadian man may be ordered to pay $17,450 after his drunken behavior aboard a Cuba-bound Sunwing flight forced the airline to make an emergency return accompanied by two F-15 U.S. Air Force jets.

Charalabos Nassios pled guilty to assault, mischief and making threats during the flight last summer. Nassios will be sentenced on April 18, and prosecutors are asking the court to make him pay about $17,450 in damages, CTV reported.

Charalabos Nassios pled guilty to assault and making threats on a Sunwing flight last summer. (CTV screenshot)

The $17,450 in damages represents the airplane fuel, landing fees, overtime salaries for Sunwing employees and hotel costs for 170 stranded passengers, according to court documents.

The incident occurred in July 2017, when the Sunwing flight departed the Pierre Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Canada, bound for Cuba. Witnesses claim Nassios started acting “aggressively” on board and threatened several passengers in a drunken rage.

That’s when the airline staff decided to return to Montreal, saying they were worried Nassios might become violent on the flight. “The flight arrived back around 7:25 p.m. that same evening, and the disruptive customer was taken into police custody,” the Canadian airliner said at the time.

The airline also contacted the FAA for assistance. Two U.S. Air Force jets accompanied the plane back to the airport.

“If a threat is determined to be credible, the FAA may offer an escort,” a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) spokesperson told Newsweek. “But, no, that’s not a common occurrence.”

Charalabos Nassios’ lawyer, Tom Pentefountas, is asking the court to not make his client pay the airliner’s bill, saying it will put “obstacles in his future path.” Nassio has filed for bankruptcy and entered Alcoholics Anonymous, according to Newsweek. Giving up alcohol was part of his plea deal.

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