Canadian startup Pivot Airlines (ZX, Toronto Pearson) has seen its sole aircraft and crew detained in the Dominican Republic after police discovered 200kgs of cocaine hidden onboard.

Pivot Airlines Chief Executive Officer Eric Edmondson was not immediately available for comment.

Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows the CRJ100ER, C-FWRR (msn 7107), is still at Punta Cana after having arrived from Toronto Pearson, Canada on March 31, 2022.

A statement by the country’s drug enforcement authority (DNCD) confirmed it had seized 200 packages in eight bags stashed in “control compartments” of C-FWRR. Eleven people, including nine Canadians, were being questioned. The crew, passengers, and the CRJ-100ER remain under the control of the country's internal affairs ministry while investigations continue to establish who else is implicated in the attempted drug smuggling.

Pivot Airlines told the National Post the aircraft's nine-member flight- and cabin-crew had been detained after they reported the find to the local police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

A maintenance worker who was part of the crew had opened a small door under the aircraft’s fuselage to access the avionics bay when he noticed a single bag. Not sure whether it was contraband, a bomb, or something else, the man immediately reported the discovery. Dominican police then searched the space and found the other bags.

Pivot Airlines is working on the release of its crew and is concerned for its safety. “They do not speak the language, have been identified as reporting the contraband to authorities and fear for their safety. We are deeply concerned for the safety, security, and ethical and humane treatment of our crew,” a spokesperson said.

“It is unacceptable that a Canadian aircrew could remain detained for the duration of a potential 12-month investigation for a suspected crime that they reported,” the carrier said.