Strike strands SAR passengers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 September, 1998, 12:00am

About 40 passengers from Hong Kong were stranded at Vancouver airport yesterday as Air Canada's 2,100 pilots went on strike.

The delayed passengers, mostly en-route to Toronto, had to seek alternative flights.

They took off on Wednesday morning from Hong Kong, just hours before the strike began, and were told that their journey would be delayed when their plane arrived at Vancouver 12 hours later.

'I hope I won't have to stay here all day,' said university student Rebecca Ng who was rushing back to Toronto for the new school term. 'Airline staff told me it would take at least three hours before I know which flight I am going to take.' All businessman Joe Lee, who had been waiting more than five hours, could do to help pass the time was read a novel. 'It's really unlucky,' he said. However, Wong Wai-shing, a Vancouver-based travel agent, said Hong Kong passengers were luckier than most. They were able to catch flights after several hours, because the airline had foreseen the problem.

'The airline had done some alternative bookings for Hong Kong passengers in the event of a strike.

'The situation here is better than I thought,' he said.

Mr Wong said a flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was cancelled yesterday and most passengers had postponed their trip or taken alternative airlines.

But passengers from Hong Kong to Canada will face long delays today. One flight to Vancouver (AC836) was cancelled.

Talks between the pilots and the airline are at a standstill.