By JOSH REPLOGLE and TERRY SPENCER, Associated Press
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WJZ/AP) — Three New Yorkers remained jailed Tuesday after authorities said they started a near-riot at Fort Lauderdale’s airport after Spirit Airlines canceled nine flights, leading to chaos in its terminal.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said about 500 people were crowded into Spirit’s terminal at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport late Monday night after the airline canceled the flights because there were no pilots.
The discount airline says pilots are refusing to pick up open flying assignments, which Spirit claims is an illegal and concerted plot by the Air Line Pilots Association to apply pressure during contract negotiations. It has filed a lawsuit. The union has denied the accusation, saying the cancellations are the airline’s fault.
Sheriff’s reports released Tuesday say 22-year-old Desmond Waul of Selden and 24-year-old Janice Waul and 22-year-old Davante Garrett, both of Brentwood, were seen by deputies threatening the airline’s front counter employees. Deputies said their actions caused the crowd to become increasingly aggressive to the point of near-violence and that they wouldn’t leave when ordered. When deputies tried to arrest them, they said the three threatened them and resisted efforts to handcuff them.
The three are charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and trespassing. They were being held Tuesday at the Broward jail in lieu of $10,000 bond each. Records do not show if they have attorneys.
Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said Tuesday that the airport staff has added security agents and other staff at the terminal to help Spirit. He said passengers are often anxious before flying, so any serious disruption can aggravate matters. Three more flights were canceled Tuesday.
“For many people, airline travel is very challenging. A lot of people don’t do it frequently, so they are nervous anyway. When your flight is canceled and you need to be somewhere at a certain time it is an imposition and we understand that. The airport tries to work with our airline partner to work with our passengers,” Meyer said.
Associated Press reporter David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)