Relatives of crashed plane's passengers lash out at TransAsia Airways for treating them like 'third-class citizens'

A TransAsia Airways logo at their counter at Taipei Songshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan, 23 July, 2014. Relatives of some passengers on board the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in Taipei on Wednesday have lashed out at the company for not i
A TransAsia Airways logo at their counter at Taipei Songshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan, 23 July, 2014. Relatives of some passengers on board the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in Taipei on Wednesday have lashed out at the company for not informing them of the mishap as soon as it happened, Taiwan media reported. -- PHOTO: EPA
Taiwan's Central News Agency released a picture of the plane that crashed into a river in New Taipei City. --PHOTO: NEW TAIPEI CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Taiwan's Central News Agency released a picture of the plane that crashed into a river in New Taipei City. --PHOTO: NEW TAIPEI CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Rescue personnel putting an injured passenger from a TransAsia ATR 72-600 turboprop plane that crash-landed into a river outside Taiwan's capital Taipei into an ambulance in New Taipei City on Feb 4, 2015. The passenger plane with 58 people on board
Rescue personnel putting an injured passenger from a TransAsia ATR 72-600 turboprop plane that crash-landed into a river outside Taiwan's capital Taipei into an ambulance in New Taipei City on Feb 4, 2015. The passenger plane with 58 people on board was on a domestic flight when it plunged into the river. -- PHOTO: AFP
Rescuers pulling a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in a river in New Taipei City on Feb 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Rescuers pulling a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in a river in New Taipei City on Feb 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Unidentified people stand in front of the counter of TransAsia Airways at the Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, on Feb 04, 2015. Relatives of some passengers on board the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in Taipei on Wednesday have
Unidentified people stand in front of the counter of TransAsia Airways at the Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, on Feb 04, 2015. Relatives of some passengers on board the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in Taipei on Wednesday have lashed out at the company for not informing them of the mishap as soon as it happened, Taiwan media reported. -- PHOTO: EPA

RELATIVES of some passengers on board the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in Taipei on Wednesday have lashed out at the company for not informing them of the mishap as soon as it happened, Taiwan media reported.

The parents of Mr Hsu Sheng-kai, a third-year undergraduate at Kinmen University, who was one of the 53 passengers on flight GE235 from Taipei to Kinmen, blasted the airline for treating Kinmen passengers like "third-class citizens", China Times said yesterday.

Kinmen, located just 2 km off China's southern province of Fujian, is administered Taiwan. Mr Hsu was one of the 10 Kinmen residents bound for home yesterday when the plane crashed in the Keelung River in Taipei at about 11am, just a few minutes after taking off from Songshan airport. Another 31 passengers are tourists from mainland China, while the remaining 12 passengers and five crew are also from Taiwan.

Mr Hsu's father, whose first name was not given, told the paper that he learned of the mishap only from watching television. When he called a TransAsia office for confirmation, the official asked him to wait for the "head office's confirmation".

The family then rushed to the airport in Kinmen, but were taken into a holding area away from the media, complained the older Mr Hsu. "We Kinmen residents are literally treated like third class citizens," he said.

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TransAsia Airways issued a statement at 5pm on Wednesday saying that it had informed all the next-of-kin of the 22 Taiwanese passengers.

The Hsu family was able to breathe easier after learning that their son had survived the crash with only larcerations to his head, China Times said.

Another next-of-kin received sadder news. The sister of Mr Yu Ya-she had made her way to the Taipei municipal funeral parlour yesterday evening after being informed that her older brother had been killed in the accident, United Daily News reported.

Meanwhile the French-Italian maker of the ill-fated ATR-72-600 turboprop aircraft also issued a statement expressing its "regrets" over the crash, Central News Agency reported.

ATR, a joint venture by France's Airbus Group and Italy's Alenia Aermacchi, is expected to cooperate in the probe on the accident.

The company also made the ATR-72-500 that went down in Taiwan's offshore island of Penghu last July in a storm, during a flight also operated by TransAsia Airways. Forty-eight people, including two French nationals, died in that crash.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg