EVA Air, one of Taiwan's two major international airlines, announced Sunday that it was canceling all of its scheduled flights to Okinawa on Monday, when Typhoon Chaba is expected to affect the Japanese island chain.
The typhoon is expected to smash directly into Okinawa during the day, and the northeasterly winds it is packing could also bring showers to the northern part of Taiwan, the Central Weather Bureau said Sunday.
EVA Air made the early announcement after sparking controversy recently by operating flights to destinations where typhoons were in full force.
The airline was harshly criticized for having flights take off for Taoyuan International Airport on Sept. 27 despite knowing that northern Taiwan was experiencing powerful winds from Typhoon Megi that led other airlines to cancel flights.
Several of the airline's flights were later diverted but some landed in difficult conditions in Taoyuan after 6:30 p.m. after circling repeatedly in the air, leaving many passengers badly shaken.
The winds were so strong that the airport in some cases refused to extend the jet bridge to some of the aircraft after they landed, keeping passengers stuck in the planes for more than an hour, according to local media.
EVA Air was accused of taking too much of a risk by sending planes toward Taiwan's main international gateway and trying to land them as Typhoon Megi was raging, even though the storm was accurately predicted the night before.
Talk even emerged of EVA Air pilots forming a union in response to the company's policy.
Under pressure, EVA Air Chairman Lin Pao-shui (???) apologized in a letter to its employees on Sept. 30, stating that the arrangement was not well thought out and that the airline will re-examine its policy of flying during storms.
In announcing the cancellation of two scheduled flights to Okinawa on Monday, the carrier did not say if this was in fact a change in policy and did not acknowledge the recent criticism.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel