Mon, Jun 15, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Passengers from Shanghai refuse to deplane in Taipei

PROTEST OVER DELAY Scores of people stayed on the plane for more than 30 minutes after it landed yesterday — more than 24 hours after they should have arrived

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Almost 100 passengers on a Shanghai Airlines flight to Taipei refused to disembark when the plane arrived at Taipei Songshan Airport yesterday morning to protest against a one-day delay in their arrival.

Shanghai Airlines flight FM80Y departed Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Saturday morning, but shortly before it should have landed in Taipei the pilot announced the aircraft was returning to Shanghai. The flight was then delayed until yesterday morning.

Wei Sheng-chih (魏勝之), director of the Taipei International Airport Office, said the pilot told the passengers on Saturday that the flight was about to land in Taipei but afterwards said he had decided to return to Pudong because of a thunderstorm.

“Perhaps the announcement for landing came a bit earlier than normal and the airline staff did not adequately communicate the weather situation to the passengers,” Wei said.

The passengers stayed on the plane for about 30 minutes before deplaning yesterday, he said.

Wei said Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) officials and Aviation Police boarded the plane to try to persuade the passengers to leave the aircraft, following standard operating procedures. It was the first time that passengers were unwilling to get off a delayed flight since regular cross-strait flights began last year.

In a report broadcast by local cable station TVBS, a Shanghai Airlines spokesman said the airline had given each passenger 400 yuan (US$58.50) as compensation and apologized for the inconvenience.

A thunderstorm around Songshan Airport on Saturday meant landing conditions did not meet the airline’s requirements, the spokesman said.

But angry passengers accused the airline of lying to them. They said the airline had unnecessarily forced them to go through a 24-hour ordeal.

Some passengers said the pilot had decided to return to Pudong because he was unhappy. Others said they had called their families in Taiwan and found that other planes had landed in Taoyuan and Songshan on schedule on Saturday despite the thunderstorm, raising questions about the pilot’s decision to return to Shanghai.

Wei said it was unlikely that the pilot’s mood had anything to do with his decision not to land on Saturday: “He would not have been able to fly in the first place if it was determined that he was unfit to fly the aircraft.”

Wei said the transcripts of communications between the pilot and the control tower on Saturday would be reviewed.

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