Thu, Oct 18, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Airline asked why it kept passengers from leaving

FORCED TO RETURN:Passengers on one of the flights held a vote to demand that they be let off the aircraft, while some passengers argued with flight attendants

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Japanese budget airline Peach Aviation has been asked to explain why it on Tuesday refused to let passengers from two of its airplanes disembark after their flights were diverted from Kaohsiung International Airport to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.

The Kaohsiung airport’s runway was closed from 11:40am to 5pm after China Airlines Flight CI712 had a flat tire, so Peach Aviation’s airplanes were instructed to land at the Taoyuan airport.

The airline, based in Osaka, said through its agent in Taiwan that one of the flights — MM933 — took off from Naha Airport in Okinawa at 11:25am and was to land in Kaohsiung at 12:15pm, but instead landed at the Taoyuan airport at 3:12pm.

The other flight — MM035 — departed from Kansai International Airport at 10:55am and was scheduled to arrive at Kaohsiung at 1:15pm, but landed in Taoyuan at 5:13pm, the airline said.

Rather than allowing passengers to disembark, the airplanes returned to their airports of origin soon after landing in Taoyuan.

The closed runway at the Kaohsiung airport caused five flights to be diverted to Taoyuan, two to Taichung and one to Tainan, CAA data showed.

The pilots were told that they could allow the passengers to disembark after they landed, the agency said, adding that Peach Aviation should explain why its aircraft returned to Japan instead.

The airline’s agent said that it is waiting for a response from headquarters in Japan.

A passenger from the MM933 flight told local Chinese-language media that the flight attendants did not explain why they had to return to Naha, adding that some of the passengers argued with the flight attendants about why they were not let off the airplane, as they were already in Taiwan.

“Some passengers said that they would not seek compensation from the airline as long as it let them off the plane. Others held a vote to demand that crew allows them to disembark, but all these were to no avail,” he said, adding that the flight attendants announced flight updates only in Japanese and English.

After the airplane returned to Naha, passengers were told that the aircraft could not land in Kaohsiung, as the runway was shut down, adding that the passengers had to find accommodations to spend the night.

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