Highway traffic generally normal; fog shuts down Taoyuan airport for hours
The China Post news staff
January 31, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Highway traffic was mostly smooth except for some congestion at certain stretches as motorists headed home for family reunions on Chinese New Year Eve yesterday, but many flights at Taoyuan's international airport were delayed due to heavy fog, with some protesting passengers refusing to leave their planes.
As of noon, no major incidents were reported on the highways, and vehicles were able to go mostly at normal speeds despite high traffic volumes.
On Sun Yat-sen Freeway, traffic jams were seen only at the southbound stretch from Changhua to Yenliao because of a car accident, with vehicles moving at only 30-50 kph, the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau said.
The bureau said it expected the highway traffic would be eased in the afternoon without any of the stretches seeing congestion.
No official figures of yesterday's highway traffic volumes were available as of press time, but the bureau said they expected the volume to hit two million vehicles.
The bureau said a total of 2.21 million vehicles traveled on the highways on Wednesday as people started heading home for the holiday period. The volume was about 30-percent more than the usual figure.
Meanwhile, heavy fog forced Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to close for several hours starting at 1 a.m., and 12 arriving flights had to be diverted to other airports — eight to Kaohsiung, two to Hong Kong, one to Japan and one to Macau, according to the Central News Agency.
Many departing flights were delayed until after 6 a.m., when the airport was reopened, CNA reported, adding about 3,000 passengers were affected by the delays.
Passengers scheduled to fly to Singapore on a 4 a.m. Scoot flight were infuriated and staged a protest when they were told their plane could not take off until 5 p.m., because of a crew issue.
The passengers had waited for five hours before they were allowed to board their plane at 9 a.m., only to be told one hour later that the crew had already passed their shift hours, and could no longer work.
Another team had to be flown from Singapore to take over the flight, which could not depart until 5 p.m., CNA cited the Singapore-based value airline as saying.
Many of the 250 passengers refused to get off the plane, saying their holiday plans were ruined because of the long delay. Airport security and airline officials succeeded in persuading most of the passengers to leave the plane, but about 30 remained.