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Angry travelers rush out onto airport taxiway

Angry travelers rush out onto airport taxiway

Updated: 2012-04-12 07:14

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)

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About 20 passengers who were dissatisfied with the compensation offered for a delayed flight rushed onto the taxiway at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport at noon on Wednesday.

The passengers were among the 161 passengers who took a Shenzhen Airlines flight from Shenzhen to Harbin with a stop in Nanjing on Tuesday.

But 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 nearby hotel, the passengers waited until the next morning to board a flight to Nanjing at 11 am on Wednesday.

However, some of the passengers were not satisfied with the compensation offered by the airline and refused to board the plane, the airport said in its notice.

The passengers then rushed to the nearby taxiway.

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

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

Officials from the airport said the incident lasted about five minutes and didn't affect other flights.

According to Shenzhen Airlines, the company has reached an agreement with the delayed passengers and compensated them 1,000 yuan ($160) each. Sixty-nine passengers received the compensation.

"These fees were given as a transportation subsidy and compensation for mental damage," Li Weiqi, press officer from Shenzhen Airlines, told China Daily.

"Thunderstorms are common from April to June, which often leads to flight delays," she said.

"According to regulations, no compensation will be made if the flight is delayed due to a reason beyond our control, such as bad weather."

According to Li, more than 30 passengers took a flight to Nanjing and transferred to Harbin on Wednesday afternoon, while the rest will change to flights leaving Shanghai for Harbin on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The incident has drawn wide public attention to flight delays across the country. According to an online survey by Sina Weibo, more than 70 percent of netizens sympathized with the delayed passengers.

Netizens also questioned how these passengers had a chance to rush onto the runway, which might have led to serious consequences.

According to China's Civil Aviation Law, people disturbing the order of a civil airport could be prosecuted for a criminal offense.

Staff from the Shanghai Airport Authority didn't give a direct answer when called by China Daily, but said related departments are carrying out a follow-up investigation.

The Shanghai Airport Authority reminded passengers to protect their rights rationally, and not to take extreme measures that affect the normal operation of an airport.

One delayed passenger with the Net name "Mao De Shuwo" later said on Sina Weibo that it was not correct for passengers to rush onto the taxiway.