Air passengers stranded in Kunming leave on rescheduled flights

2008-07-29 08:57:22 GMT       2008-07-29 16:57:22 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

KUNMING, July 29 (Xinhua) -- All the airline passengers stranded here in the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province left on Tuesday on two separate rescheduled flights.

Ai Qingping, duty manager at the Kunming office of China Southern Airlines, told Xinhua they had arranged two new flights -- one for Guiyang, the other for Changsha -- for the stranded passengers and promised to pay each person 100 yuan (about 14 U.S. dollars) as compensation for the delay.

The rescheduled flight for Guiyang reportedly left at 11 a.m., while the one for Changsha took off at about 2:27 p.m.

Of the 130 passengers destined for Changsha, 40 or so at first refused to board the rescheduled flight because their demands were not met. These demands included compensation of 600 yuan to 1,000 yuan, plus an apology from China Southern. Alternatively, some wanted the airline to run an apology in major media outlets in Kunming and Changsha and pay 1 yuan to each customer.

After negotiations, China Southern staff and those customers eventually reached a consensus over the rescheduled flight.

China Southern declined to disclose details of the agreed terms.

Li Jinsong, a representative of the stranded passengers from Changsha, told Xinhua they were promised by China Southern that they would be compensated upon arrival in Changsha if they boarded the plane.

Three China Southern flights -- two to Guiyang, one to Changsha-- were delayed on Monday evening by conditions including bad weather at their destinations, stranding more than 170 passengers. When the passengers began to gather at the airport on Tuesday morning, they got into disputes with the airline staff and scuffled with security staff.

Passengers claimed that the airline didn't provide hotels or meals for them. The carrier has not commented on that claim.

The delay of the flight to Changsha on Monday was later clarified as having been caused by closure of the destination airport following runway repairs. China Southern's Hunan branch agreed to compensate each customer 100 yuan for the inconvenience, according to Ai.

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