Travel agencies urge FAT to compensate for flight cancellations
Taipei, May 18 (CNA) Travel agencies demanded Saturday that Far Eastern Air Transport Corp. (FAT), a medium-sized international carrier in Taiwan, pay compensation for its cancellations of round- trip flights to three destinations in the Philippines and Vietnam.
FAT announced a day earlier without warning that it was canceling round-trips to Palawan and Boracay in the Philippines and Danang in Vietnam for the rest of May, effective Saturday.
The surprise cancellations stirred outrage among passengers and travel agencies using FAT flights to the three destinations.
In a joint statement, local agencies, led by Sky Way Travel Service Co., said they estimated that the cancellations could cost the tourism industry more than NT$100 million (US$3.21 million) in losses.
FAT said the cancellations came after the carrier exceeded the maximum number of flight hours of 1,350 hours per month set by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) for the carrier.
The company added that the carrier has a different definition from the CAA to calculate the monthly maximum number of flight hours, so that it had no choice but to cancel some of its flights by the end of this month to meet the monthly requirement.
While the flights between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Danang have been canceled, flights between Kaohsiung and Danang have not been affected, FAT said.
A total of 786 FAT passengers have been grounded by the cancellations -- 483 in Danang, 139 in Boracay and 164 in Palawan, according to FAT.
The carrier said it has asked other carriers for help in getting its passengers back to Taiwan.
The passengers booked to fly FAT to the three destinations later this month are eligible for full refunds.
Huang Wen-ching (黃文卿), deputy head of the Travel Quality Assurance Association (TQAA), told reporters that it was not the first time FAT had canceled flights without warning to meet the flight hour requirements.
Huang said the cancellations have caused chaos in the local tourism industry and the CAA should take the blame for its failure to serve as a competent supervisor of the local airline business.
He said the CAA should demand that carriers issue a notice at least two weeks ahead of any flight cancellations and establish a compensation mechanism for such cancellations.
To meet the flight hour requirement, the TQAA said it is possible that FAT will cancel more flights next week, which could affect five destinations in Japan and South Korea. FAT did not comment on the TQAA speculation.
Local media reported that the cancellations could affect a total of 31 round-trip flights to these destinations in the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea by the end of May.
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