Passengers take tarmac again, delay other flights

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More than 20 angry passengers took their protest onto an airport taxiway to demand compensation for their flight being canceled for bad weather in Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province yesterday. The protest caused a series of flight delays between Shanghai and Kunming.


Passengers on the taxiway of Kunming airport.

It was the third time in four months in China that passengers have illegally occupied airport tarmac since passengers did it at the Pudong International Airport in April and received 1,000 yuan (US$157) compensation each but no punishment.

In yesterday's case, passengers of the West Air's flight PN6106 from Kunming to Chongqing sat on the ground around 8am in front of a passenger plane taxiing hundreds meters away, according to pictures posted by some of the passengers on the Internet.

Passengers complained the flight was suddenly canceled and the airline left them at the airport without food and accommodation for 15 hours, so they decided to rush onto the tarmac to protest, a passenger from Chongqing said yesterday.

The protest made all the flights between Shanghai and Kunming delayed for around two hours. The airline had not made any public statements and the result of the protest was unclear.

"It has become a strange phenomenon in China that passengers tend to protest in irrational ways over flight delays or cancellation so the airlines can compensate them more in the end," said Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer from the Lanpeng Law Firm who handles civil aviation cases.

Zhang said the carriers should take responsibility for the protests. The carriers didn't tell passengers of the reason for the delays or compensate them, which made them feel like they had to take extreme measures, Zhang said. But compensation after such protests sets a bad example, he said.

Those who illegally protest on the tarmac can be detained for five to 10 days with fines and face up to five years in prison, said Liu Chunquan, a senior lawyer at Panocean Law Firm in Shanghai.

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