Victoria airport manager ‘perplexed’ by Liberals’ plane-bus scrape up

VICTORIA — A manager at Victoria International Airport says he doesn't understand how a bus managed to damage Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's election plane.

Martin Childs, who is in charge of the airport's private terminal, says drivers and security personnel are briefed ahead of time on where to park on the tarmac.

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He adds there were 12 traffic cones around the plane, which exceeded the industry standard of having one each by the nose, tail and wings.

Childs says there was enough room for the bus ferrying media and a few Liberal staff on Wednesday night to go around the plane's wing, but the driver chose to go under it and gouged the wing's underside.

Childs says he was asked to send a written account of what happened to the federal transportation watchdog.

A spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board says the agency decided not to investigate.

"We're all a little perplexed about it," Childs said Thursday.

He and his staff had worked hard to make sure everyone was safe, he said.

"And then somehow something still happened that was out of our control. That's the challenge with this job — you've got to cover every base, all the time."

The prime minister had already left the tarmac in another vehicle when the plane emblazoned with "Trudeau" in big red block letters was hit. Campaign officials procured a new Air Transat plane without the partisan branding.

The bus was operated by Victoria-based Wilson's Transportation Ltd., which operates 200 vehicles, including highway coaches, airport shuttles, minivans and school buses.

Executive vice-president Joe Jansen said he hadn't had a look at the damage to the roof of the bus, but expected that it would be superficial.

He said the company's vehicles get a bit scratched up from time to time by things such as tree branches and overhangs.

"I don't know whether it's a tempest in a teapot or what it is. There was never any risk to life and limb," he said of what happened.

"The notoriety — and I don't mean that positive or negative — of the passenger that was on the plane prior to the incident has certainly caused more interest than something like that normally would."

Childs said there can be 30 to 40 people on the tarmac who are not part of his staff at any given time, including security guards, Mounties, caterers and drivers.

On his 10 years on the job, he said he has overseen many landings and takeoffs for VIPs, including Prince William with his wife, Kate, and former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Trudeau and former prime minister Stephen Harper have been through numerous times, he said.

The election is on Oct. 21.

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

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