Airlines cancel Taipei flights as China's military drills continue
TAIPEI - Several airlines cancelled their flights to Taiwan on Friday (Aug 5), as China conducted the second day of its live-fire military drills around the island.
Singapore Airlines, budget airline Scoot and China Eastern Airlines were among those that cancelled flights to Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport, while Korean Air and Delta Air Lines cancelled flights leaving Taoyuan.
China's live-fire military exercises in six maritime areas surrounding Taiwan began on Thursday and are scheduled to last until Sunday. The drills are part of China's furious response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island earlier this week.
"(Taoyuan) Airport's flights can take off and land like usual, but the airline companies have their own considerations when it comes to cancelling flights," said Mr Wang Kai-ping, a spokesman for the airport.
He added that flight cancellations have been the norm since Covid-19 broke out in early 2020, and that some flights might have been cancelled because the airline "simply couldn't fill enough seats".
US-bound on a 7.20pm Singapore Airlines flight that was not cancelled was University of Southern California student Louis Cheng, 21.
"I'm flying back to Los Angeles after visiting my grandparents over the summer," he said. "The drills probably ended for the day already, so I'm not too concerned."
Flights departing and arriving at Taoyuan have been asked to reroute to avoid the airspace where China is conducting its sea and air exercises.
About half the 300-plus international flights that typically pass through the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) also took diversions through the Fukuoka or Manila FIRs on Thursday, Taiwan's Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai said on Friday.
Mr Wang said there had been no change to the daily average of more than 150 flights departing and arriving in Taiwan on Thursday. Friday's numbers were not yet available.