Passengers in sit-in after delay of 18 hours

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong Airlines was hit by another sit-in protest yesterday when a group of passengers arriving from Shanghai after a delay of about 18 hours refused to leave the plane at Hong Kong International Airport.

Flight HX235 departed Shanghai Pudong International Airport on time at 8am on Wednesday, but severe fog - some of the worst in years - forced the plane to divert to nearby Hongqiao Airport, Shanghai's mainly domestic airport.

Passengers remained there until about midnight before their plane returned to Pudong, where a flight back to Hong Kong left at about 2am. They arrived in Hong Kong before 5am.

Unhappy at the 18-hour delay, 17 passengers refused to disembark. They remained in the cabin for three hours before police were alerted, and the matter was resolved an hour later.

All passengers had agreed to compensation by 9am, the airline stated. The company had compensated some passengers before the flight left Shanghai, but settled with others once reaching Hong Kong, it said.

'We handled the problems caused by weather conditions in the safest way possible. We would like to apologise to passengers for any inconvenience,' the airline stated.

The passengers' protest held up another flight, to Beijing - the same aircraft had been due to leave Hong Kong for the capital at 8am, according to the Airport Authority.

The fog in Shanghai was described as 'the most severe low cloud since Pudong airport opened in 1999', causing 150 flights to be cancelled and 440 delayed by Wednesday afternoon. Operations returned to normal yesterday.

In November, passengers staged a similar sit-in on another Hong Kong Airlines flight that left Singapore nine hours late. Four Hongkongers and 17 mainlanders stayed on the plane for five hours after it touched down in protest at the compensation of HK$400 on offer. They eventually settled for HK$1,200 each.