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Angry Passengers Attack After Airline Cancels Flight

Police had to be called to Hongqiao International Airport yesterday morning after passengers on a canceled flight began attacking two employees from Spring Airlines.


Angry passengers screamed obscenities at the airline employees, thrust heavy luggage at them, and grabbed one by the collar.


No one was hurt during the confrontation and no arrests were made.


Spring Airlines, the country's first budget carrier, canceled its 7:40am flight to Xiamen due to mechanical problems with one of its three aircraft. The 160 people who had booked tickets on the flight demanded more compensation that guaranteed by the contracts they had signed.


Spring said passengers could either get a full refund or shift to a 6pm flight.


Passengers who booked tickets through Spring International Travel Service Co, the carrier's parent company, were also offered an additional 10 percent of the ticket price as compensation.


Most of the passengers who booked with the travel company chose to take the 6pm flight, while the majority of other asked for the refund.


"We want to shift to another airline but Spring can not arrange it," said Wei Li, 30, who paid the carrier's parent company 790 yuan (US$98) for a three-day package that includes round-trip airfare from Shanghai to Xiamen, two nights accommodation plus entry fees to tourist resorts.


"We can't change our plans and will lose a day traveling," she said. "But we won't be compensated."


Spring said it would honor all of the terms in the contracts it signed with passengers, but said many of them didn't pay enough attention to the clauses in the contracts.


"We make it clear in the contracts and passengers agreed they would accept what we've offered when they signed," said Chen Jisheng, one of the airline employees attacked yesterday.


"Due to the low cost of our tickets, it's impossible for us to cooperate with other airlines to shift our clients to their aircraft," he added.


The three-day package Wei paid 790 yuan for would cost about 1,300 yuan if it included flights on a different airline, he said.


(Shanghai Daily February 24, 2006)


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