China / Society

Air route suspended after passengers protest

By Wang Xiaodong ( Updated: 2012-04-25 21:48

A route of Shenzhen Airlines has been suspended after the company failed to properly address a delayed takeoff during a recent stopover that resulted in 28 passengers rushing to the runway in protest.

The flight, ZH9817, will be suspended from flying the route — from Shenzhen to Harbin with a stopover in Nanjing — from April 30, according to a circular issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China on April 16, industry insiders said.

The circular was issued in response to two cases involving passengers rushing into runways or the tarmac. It said such behavior had seriously disrupted airport order and posed a hazard to aviation safety.

In one case, 28 passengers rushed to the runway at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport on April 11 as they were dissatisfied with the compensation offered by Shenzhen Airlines for a delayed flight.

The passengers were among the 161 people who took the flight from Shenzhen to Harbin on April 10.

The flight landed in Shanghai at 8 pm due to bad weather in Nanjing, and was delayed again as Shanghai was hit by a thunderstorm.

After staying overnight at a hotel near the Shanghai airport, the passengers waited until the next morning to board a flight back to Nanjing at 11 am on April 11.

However, some of the passengers were not satisfied with the compensation offered by the airline and refused to board the plane, the Shanghai airport said in a notice. They then rushed to the nearby runway.

An Etihad Airways flight was forced to stop about 200 meters from the passengers.

Later, the airport's control center sent staff to persuade the passengers to leave the taxiway and bring them to the terminal.

Later, Shenzhen Airlines reached an agreement with the delayed passengers and compensated them 1,000 yuan ($160) each.

Two days later, some passengers ran into the runway at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport because their flight, operated by Hainan Airlines and scheduled to depart at noon, was delayed four hours due to thunderstorms. Later, the passengers were persuaded to return to the boarding gate.

Airlines should take responsibility to ensure punctual flights, the circular said. They should work to avoid long delays in cases of bad weather and cancel the flights if they predict long delays.

Airports should inform passengers immediately about flight delays and how they will handle these delays.

Public security forces should increase patrols to maintain order in airports and punish those who violate the law, such as by smashing counters and rushing onto runways, the circular said.

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