One day after its announcement that passenger tickets would be sold for the flight carrying two giant pandas from Sichuan Province, EVA Air (EVA,長榮航空) yesterday canceled the sale of the tickets.
An EVA staffer who requested anonymity told the Taipei Times that the decision was made following complaints from animal rights groups, who said giant pandas are shy animals and could be frightened by crowds who wish to look at them.
Based on the concerns, the airline canceled its plans, she said.
Six travel agencies authorized to sell the tickets stopped sales yesterday morning.
All of them said they had received calls requesting information about the tickets, which were part of a packaged tour.
EZ Travel (易遊網) said it had received approximately 30 orders for the two-day trip yesterday morning.
The tickets had been priced at NT$3,999 per person.
“We believe that they [travel agencies] will understand that we are doing this to protect the animals,” the airlines staffer said.
The airline will dispatch a Boeing 747-400 with a maximum capacity of 276 passengers to bring the pandas to Taiwan.
In addition to Taiwanese and Chinese caretakers for the pandas and government officials, another 100 passengers would have been allowed on board if the tickets had been sold.
The aircraft will be grounded for cleaning and inspections on Friday and will leave for Sichuan next week.