Sun, May 19, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Last-minute flight cancelations decried

STRANDED PASSENGERS:The Civil Aeronautics Administration must know Far Eastern Air has taken on too much, but it has failed to inform the public, a travel association said

By Huang Mien-chieh, Cheng Wei-chi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Travel Quality Assurance Association yesterday called on the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) to establish proper early warning channels and mandate performance bonds for airlines to guarantee the rights of travelers and travel agencies.

The association made the call following an unexpected announcement by Far Eastern Air Transport on Friday that it was halting all flights to Da Nang in Vietnam, and the Boracay and Palawan islands in the Philippines from yesterday.

There are 139 passengers stranded on Boracay Island, 164 on Palawan Island and 483 in Da Nang, association deputy director Huang Wen-ching (黃文卿) said.

Another 100 passengers were forced to cancel their plans to travel to Da Nang, with perhaps thousands more needing to cancel, he added.

Far Eastern Air’s unreliability has been a known issue, but the CAA has failed in its duty to oversee the airline, Huang said.

The airline is to cancel more flights in the coming week, potentially to Japan and South Korea, Huang said, citing anonymous sources while calling on the government to look into the issue.

It is unfair that travel agencies would be the ones to shoulder all additional expenses, including additional ticketing, and room and board for stranded travelers, Taipei Association of Travel Agents director Hsiang Chien-lun (向健倫) said.

The Travel Quality Assurance Association called on Far Eastern Air to fully reimburse travelers their ticket fares and to shoulder room and board expenses for travelers stuck abroad.

The airline said that about 786 passengers who have purchased tickets on five flights from yesterday to Tuesday would need to be transferred to other airlines.

In response to the quality association’s threat to boycott the airline, Far Eastern Air said that it notified all travel agencies working with the company as soon as it made the announcement.

The airline has asked the agencies to foot the bill for travelers stuck abroad for the time being, it said, adding that once all passengers have safely returned, it would discuss reimbursing the agencies on a per-item basis.

Making the announcement only one day in advance was in compliance with CAA regulations for domestic routes, the airline added.

It cited the agency’s requirements to provide a certain number of domestic flights on a monthly basis, adding that despite pulling international flights, it was still unable to meet the required amount.

However, Huang said that the CAA is provided with a list of every airline’s flight schedules on a monthly basis.

The CAA must know Far Eastern Air has taken on more than it can handle, but has failed to tell the airline and the public, he said.

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