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Mainland Passengers “Occupy” Hong Kong Flight in 18-Hour Protest

Posted: 06/24/2014 8:37 pm

hong kong airlines flight hx234When your flight is cancelled, then that’s it: you’re not going anywhere. But for a group of mainland tourists, the decision to “not go anywhere” doesn’t necessarily have to be made by the airline.

It was 9pm on June 20, and the departure of Hong Kong Airlines Flight HX234 from Hong Kong Airport to Shanghai was in jeopardy. The air traffic control at Pudong reported bad weather and ordered the plane to delay take-off.

So the plane waited for permission to depart while still idling at its original position next to the passenger terminal. For hours. At 2am, passengers began to request to leave the plane, but it wasn’t until 3am when the captain announced the flight would be cancelled, a full six hours after the original departure time of 9pm.

At this time, Hong Kong Airlines offered its 276 passengers HK$200 in compensation, dinner and breakfast vouchers, along with a flight to Shanghai later. Around 130 of the already boarded passengers accepted this offer, and disembarked the plane. However, about 70 passengers rejected the terms, and refused to leave.

hong kong airlines flight hx234Here’s where this story takes wildly different turns depending on which side of the Hong Kong-Mainland boundary you’re on.

The People’s Daily reported that the passengers had nothing to eat or drink for the entire 16 hours, during which the air conditioning was reported to have been turned off. The paper said the airline staff also left the plane during the passengers’ protest.

This report refers to the passengers as being “detained; while the passengers were not allowed to leave the flight before it was cancelled at 3am, the passengers refused to leave the plane after 3am once the flight was cancelled.

hong kong airlines flight hx234

On the other hand, the airline states that water was provided to passengers throughout the incident, during which time the air conditioning was on, reports the Hong Kong Standard.

But it gets uglier. Passenger Mr Hua said the protesters were not seeking compensation, but rather wanted to complain about how they were being treated. But airline staff have a different story.

Stewardess Candy Tong made a post on Instagram in which she affirmed that airline staff gave food and drink to the passengers. Furthermore, Tong stated that during the delay, airline staff had lent passengers their own personal cell phone chargers. Passengers used their recharged batteries to take pictures of the flight attendants.

The following photograph was posted to Facebook with the text, “#1320 Thanks for telling me there is no food and drinks in HX 234.”

hong kong airlines flight hx234

The whole standoff finally came to an end at 3pm on the 21st — after passengers had stayed on the flight for a full 18 hours — when Hong Kong Airlines decided to increase compensation to HK$800 per passenger.

Hong Kong Airlines has experienced similar protests by mainland passengers before. Two months ago, 31 passengers refused to leave a flight leaving Bali. Back in 2011, 21 passengers refused to leave a Hong Kong Airlines flight after a nine-hour delay in Singapore. Seventeen passengers refused to leave a flight departing from Shanghai in 2012 after an 18-hour weather delay.

A “language strike” by Hong Kong Airlines flight attendants is now planned for July 1 in which staff will refrain from speaking Putonghua. July 1 is also the annual day of protest in Hong Kong, which also coincides with its handover of sovereignty back to Mainland China.

hong kong flight 234 protest

Photos: People’s Daily, Facebook


Shenzhen Subway to be Fined RMB 2 Million If Trains Are Late

Posted: 05/20/2014 7:18 pm

We all hate waiting for the subway. Why is it taking so long? Did it get lost somewhere along the way? To make sure that the trains run on time, the City of Shenzhen is thinking of ways to ensure subway operators toe the line and maintain a punctual schedule.

An operating subway train that incurs long delays will be fined a maximum of RMB 2 millionreports the Yangcheng Evening News.

According to the “Proposal of Operation of Public Transportation for City of Shenzhen (Public Proposals)”, subway trains must adhere to a strict timetable and have a detailed procedure to follow if delays are encountered.

  • Any delays in operation, expected delays of five minutes or less, or when changing direction and exchanging front or rear trains, the subway operator should inform the onboard passengers and the public at large of the specific reason.
  • Any delays of eight minutes and up incurred by the subway operator should be promptly reported to their operations manager.
  • No subway operators can arbitrarily stop operation of the subway for any reason. If they have to stop, it must be done with the approval of the subway operations manager.
  • If long delays are expected, the city government should be asked for approval because of the huge impact a stopped train will have.

Exceptional delays will have equally heavy punishments with a fine levied of somewhere between RMB 50 and RMB 2 million.

While that may seem stiff, it’s worth remembering that making the trains run on time is the high bar for establishing an ideal society that works. As the policy itself says,

…if the obstruction cannot be promptly resolved, then operational service must be resumed as soon as possible by taking specific procedures such as to evacuate passengers, exchange passengers, limit the flow of passengers etc… the executive manager must issue the order to correct this problem, give warnings, or else fines from RMB 1,000 to 10,000 may be handed out.

Shenzhen Metro: staring at a smartphone only works for about an hour—get us to our destinations without delay!

Photo: 60 Malaysia


HK-GZ High-Speed Railway Hit With More Delays, Won’t Commence Until 2016

Posted: 05/16/2014 12:58 pm

Once you take off all the red tape from the packaging, it’s sure to go really fast.

An independent panel has been convened to examine the delay to the Hong Kong construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, said Acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in a report from the Standard.

The announcement was made after legal arbitration was raised as a possibility to settle the disagreement over whom should pay for extra construction costs between the local government and MTR Corp, the developer of the Hong Hong-based section of the high-speed railway.

An announced delay to the completion of the project moved back the opening schedule to 2016 due to unforeseen complications. As such, MTR Corp put the new cost of the railway at HK$68.4 billion, $3.4 billion more than originally estimated.

Though the Hong Kong government had sent a letter stating they did not intend to cover this additional cost, MTR Corp cited a 2010 entrustment agreement whereby the government will fully reimburse contractors and consultants. However, in the event of a “material increase”, both sides are to negotiate the difference in the project management fee.

So yes, a potential legal delay caused by a construction delay may be solved with this independent panel, which won’t issue a report until November. Until then, there’s always the option of walking, or just staying put.



Landing system at Guangzhou airport goes on the fritz, 57 flights affected

Posted: 12/21/2012 7:00 am

More than 1,000 passengers were affected when flights were delayed or cancelled and incoming flights were diverted to Shenzhen or Zhuhai on Tuesday (December 18), China Daily reports. The cause was a breakdown in the instrument landing system.

An instrument landing system is a ground-based approach system providing precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway, using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting to enable a safe landing. It is illegal to allow a plane to land at an airport where the system isn’t functioning, a pilot told the newspaper.

Airport authorities said 57 flights were affected by the breakdown. Twenty-five flights — 15 arrivals and 10 departures — were delayed for more than an hour.

Ten flights were diverted to Shenzhen and Zhuhai airports while another 10 arrivals were canceled by about 10 pm. Operations at the airport, one of the three busiest in China, returned to normal after midnight.

There has been much dissatisfaction with flight delays and cancellations in China this year. It is common for a flight to be delayed without warning or explanation.

The most notorious case this year was when 20 people blocked the runway at Shanghai Pudong Airport to protest the delay of a Shenzhen Airlines flight.

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