Airport criticized for jetway malfunction

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was criticized again for a jet bridge malfunction, the second major jetway breakdown in less than four months, that left 253 passengers disembarking unsheltered amid heavy rain early Tuesday. The passengers were onboard an EVA Paris-Taoyuan flight arriving at the airport at around 6:00 a.m., half an hour ahead of schedule, The plane was directed to Gate C9 at Terminal 2 of the airport for disembarkation but ground crew soon found that both jet bridges at the gate had malfunctioned.

Airport personnel took almost an hour to get a boarding ladder to Gate C9 while the passengers waited inside the plane. The ladder was also not covered, meaning that the passengers had to disembark in the open on a rainy day to get to the shuttle bus that took them to the terminal.

Airport spokesman Chao Shao-lien (趙紹廉) yesterday contributed the incident to the lack of response time for the airport crew due to the plane’s earlier-than-expected arrival. The airport generally checks jet bridges 15 minutes before a plane lands but the flight arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Although a ground crew was immediately dispatched to check the bridges, it was already too late when they were found to have malfunctioned, he said.

In the future the airport will conduct jet bridge check-ups the night before to avoid similar incidents from happening, Chao said. The Chinese language Apple Daily, however, challenged the airport’s explanation, pointing out that the Gate C9 has been operating with one of its two jetways for the past six months since jet bridge A broke down on April 18.  The newspaper also reported that though the parts needed for repair of jetway A have already arrived, the reparation will not be completed under mid-November because the airport is still running acceptance checks on these components.

There were also many unused gates at the time, which the airport could have directed the plane to, the newspaper pointed out. Among the disgruntled passengers was Control Yuan member Ma Yi-kung (馬以工), whom complained to Customs officers of the low quality of the airport equipment and demanded the airport compile a detailed report of the incident within a week.

Tuesday’s incident occurred about four months after a jetway at Terminal 2 of the Taoyuan Airport collapsed. No one was injured in the incident.

The airport, Taiwan’s largest air hub, has been plagued by a series of scandals and incidents from corruption allegations of airport officials, sewage leaks and a leaking ceiling to a major baggage handling system failure. It is widely believed that the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming corporatization of the airport administration has caused worries among airport employees and generally lowered morale. “People are already getting ready to go (as manpower streamlines after corporatization), who would still care if the airport gets into trouble again?” the Apple Daily quoted an airport employee as saying.