TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) suspended flights to and from Da Nang in Vietnam and Palawan and Boracay in the Philippines beginning Saturday (May 18), but later in the day reports said flights to five more destinations were also to be axed.
The airline initially said its McDonnell Douglas MD flight crews might exceed the maximum 1,350 hours of flying set for the month of May if the flights were not suspended.
However, later in the day, reports said the suspensions for the three destinations would be extended until the end of June, while several other destinations in Japan, China and South Korea would also be axed in May.
Flights to and from Jeju in South Korea, Fukushima and Niigata in Japan, and Tianjin and Taiyuan in China would cease operations for this month, indicating a total of 31 flights were to be canceled, cable station TVBS reported.
The flights to China originate out of Taipei Songshan Airport, while all the others fly out of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
The cancelations of the Da Nang, Boracay and Palawan flights, which were only announced the previous day, Friday May 17, left almost 800 people stranded overseas, the Central News Agency reported.
FAT said that 483 passengers scheduled to return from Da Nang to on May 18, 20 and 21 would be transferred to flights to Kaohsiung and to other airlines. A total of 164 passengers scheduled to return from Palawan on May 19 and 139 from Boracay on May 20 had already been booked on other direct or connecting flights back to Taiwan.
Travelers booked on outbound flights could apply to receive all their money back from travel agents, according to FAT.
Tour operators expressed anger at the airline’s move, threatening to sue for compensation, reports said.
The sudden controversy came at an awkward time, as visitors were thronging inside a travel fair in Taipei this weekend ahead of next month’s Dragon Boat Festival. Staff at the FAT stand reportedly covered up posters advertising holidays in Da Nang. At the same time, Taiwanese air travelers are also still facing the potential of strikes at EVA Air.