Irate travellers hold plane protest
Hong Kong - Furious Chinese passengers refused to leave a plane at Hong Kong airport for several hours until they were paid compensation for flight delays, an airline spokesperson said on Thursday.
The protest sit-in began when the Hong Kong Airlines plane landed around 05:30 local time on Wednesday from Singapore, airline spokesperson Eva Chan told AFP.
The Airbus 330 carrying 159 passengers had been delayed in Singapore for almost nine hours due to a technical fault and a fracas between two groups of passengers which left an old Chinese women with an injured hand.
"Some of the passengers weren't happy with our compensation policy and they showed their anger. Actually it was quite a mess," Chan said of the incident at the boarding gate in Singapore.
Cops called to scene
The airline offered the passengers HK$400 each by way of compensation but 80 of them rejected the offer and refused to leave the plane in Hong Kong until they received more money, she said.
Fifty-nine passengers gave up their sit-in and left the aircraft at 09:00 but the remaining 21 - including a tour group from Shenzhen and four travellers from Hong Kong - remained on board.
Police were called to the scene as the crew tried to negotiate with the passengers inside the cabin.
"For airport security reasons we had to call the police. We couldn't take action because it wouldn't be right for us to force them off the aircraft," Chan said.
Ninety minutes later the passengers agreed to disembark, but they continued their protest inside the airport. The protest finally ended around 13:30 when the airline raised their compensation to HK$1 200 each.
"The amount of the compensation is not important. Their (Hong Kong Airlines) attitude was very poor," one of the passengers from mainland China was quoted as telling Hong Kong's iCable TV.
Chan said the airline apologised for the inconvenience caused by the plane's technical problem, but added that up to two hours of the delay in Singapore was due to the protest actions of the passengers.
"Two groups of passengers tried to fight with each other at the boarding gate and an old lady fell down and injured her hand," Chan said.
The spokesperson said the injured woman received medical treatment for the injury and compensation from the airline in Singapore, but she continued to demand more money on arrival in Hong Kong.
"We offered to take her to a hospital or clinic but she refused," Chan said.
Chan rejected some of the passengers' allegations in the media that they were assaulted by Singapore airport staff and deceived by the airline about compensation.
She said CCTV footage of the incident in Singapore showed the airport ground staff had acted appropriately.