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Air Ontario has agreed to pay a lump sum settlement and accept the retirement of the flight attendant who assured the safety of the passengers in the Dryden plane crash.

Sonia Hartwick, 34, has been unable to return to active duty since the tragic crash on an Air Ontario flight in March 1989. Air Ontario terminated her employment in January 1996. With CUPE’s support, she has been battling since to be reinstated.

The agreement, reached during an arbitration hearing in Sudbury this morning, rescinds the termination, pays compensation and provides for full pension benefits.

Denise Hill, president of the Airline Division, said: “We pressed the company to return Sonia to their seniority list but they wouldn’t agree. In the end, we recommended that Sonia accept this offer in an effort to bring closure to the case and allow her to move on.”

“This brings an end to my relation with Air Ontario,” said Ms. Hartwick. “But my relation with the Dryden crash continues. I feel that very deeply, very personally.”

The only surviving crew member on the Dryden Flight, Ms. Hartwick, was widely praised for the exemplary manner in which she performed her duties, evacuating passengers from the burning wreckage under extremely dangerous conditions. Twenty one passengers and three crew members died in the crash.

Thanking CUPE, Ms. Hartwick said: “The union did a wonderful job, working very hard to get a fair settlement. They really came through for me and I am deeply appreciative.”