August 5, 2022

Scoot cancels Taipei flights due to airspace restrictions around Taiwan amid China’s military drills

By brit

SINGAPORE – Budget airline Scoot cancelled its flight scheduled to leave Singapore for Taiwan on Friday morning (Aug 5) as well as the returning leg of the service, amid China’s military drills around Taiwan.

The cancelled flight, TR996, was to depart Changi Airport at 9.55am for Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei.

A spokesman for Scoot said that the airline also cancelled the returning leg of the flight, TR997, which would have departed Taipei at 5.10pm back to Singapore on Friday.

Following the flight cancellations, Scoot said it would be rendering assistance to affected passengers.

“For bookings made through travel agents or partner airlines, customers are advised to contact their travel agent or purchasing airline for assistance,” said the spokesman. 

“The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust plans, as necessary,” she added.

Scoot operates three direct flights from Singapore to Taipei every week – on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. 

The Scoot cancellations came after Singapore Airlines announced on Thursday that it would be cancelling two flights scheduled on Friday – SQ878 and SQ897 – from Singapore to Taipei, and the returning leg from Taipei to Singapore.

There were two other Singapore-Taipei flights on Friday, operated by Taiwan’s EVA Air and China Airlines. 

EVA Air’s BR226 took off at 1.10pm, while China Airlines’ CI754 departed at 1.25pm. 

China is conducting live-fire military exercises from Thursday to Sunday, following United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday, China sent an official notice to airlines operating in Asia to avoid flying in areas around Taiwan. The notice said flights will be restricted from noon on Thursday to noon on Sunday. Six areas of airspace around Taiwan have been designated as “danger zones” by China.

Mrs Pelosi was the highest-ranking US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, prompting China to condemn the visit and retaliate with economic and military responses.

When The Straits Times visited Changi Airport Terminal 3 at 11am on Friday, a steady stream of passengers were lining up to check-in for their flights at the counters of EVA Air and China Airlines. 

Taiwanese residents whom ST spoke to said they were used to tensions between the island-state and China. 

Madam Wang Chengmei, 65, a restaurant owner booked on BR226, said that although she was slightly worried about flying, she had to go home to take care of her business.

She was in Singapore for a week-long holiday with her family of eight. 

“We can’t control the situation, but if the airlines are still operating, it should be okay to fly,” said Madam Wang in Mandarin. 

A Taiwanese businessman booked on CI754, who wanted to be known only as Mr Yu, 42, concurred. “I grew up under this kind of political tension and I’m numb. I think (China) won’t dare to do anything,” he said. 

But others were more circumspect about flying. A regional sales director of a cyber-security firm, who only wanted to be known as Mr Ong, 45, said he was taking the BR226 flight to Taipei to transit to San Francisco for a business trip. 

The Singaporean booked his flight last week and said it was too late for him to make changes when he heard about the military exercises on Thursday. 

“I’m hoping for the best. I was joking with my colleagues, hopefully I don’t see any flying objects, if not I’ll take photos and send those to them,” he said.

“I’m going to subscribe to the in-flight Wi-Fi and remain in constant contact with my company and family,” added the father of three.