Hundreds held up at Changi as typhoon bears down on Taiwan

Passengers checking flight information at Taoyuan International Airport yesterday. Many flights were delayed or cancelled as Typhoon Nesat approached Taiwan. Strong winds blew over people and motorbikes in Taipei yesterday as Typhoon Nesat neared. Se
Strong winds blew over people and motorbikes in Taipei yesterday as Typhoon Nesat neared. Several events were cancelled, and the army is on standby to provide disaster relief.PHOTO: REUTERS
Passengers checking flight information at Taoyuan International Airport yesterday. Many flights were delayed or cancelled as Typhoon Nesat approached Taiwan. Strong winds blew over people and motorbikes in Taipei yesterday as Typhoon Nesat neared. Se
Passengers checking flight information at Taoyuan International Airport yesterday. Many flights were delayed or cancelled as Typhoon Nesat approached Taiwan. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Around 520 Singapore Airlines (SIA) passengers leaving Singapore for Taipei yesterday were delayed by Typhoon Nesat, which was last seen approaching Taiwan last night.

The typhoon, the first of the year for Taiwan, caught travellers by surprise and delayed at least three outbound flights.

The affected outbound flights were: SQ 876, SQ 878 and China Airlines Flight CI 758, which is a codeshare flight with KLM 4984, according to information on Changi Airport's flight information board at 6pm yesterday.

Two inbound SIA flights, SQ 877 and SQ 879, were also delayed. A Scoot flight scheduled to depart Taoyuan International Airport this morning has been retimed.

An SIA spokesman said around 520 of its passengers departing from Singapore were affected.

"Passengers were informed of the retimed flights through SMS and e-mail alerts. We have also provided hotel accommodation for some passengers."

The China Airlines flight was scheduled to depart at 6.30pm yesterday and was retimed to 6am today.

At Changi Airport, two dedicated counters were set aside for affected SIA passengers. At 6pm yesterday, a steady stream of passengers approached the staff at the counters only to find out that their flights had been delayed. Singaporeans Jesslyn Nah, 25, and Tan Mei Ling, 30, decided to cancel their trip as a result of the typhoon.

Together with Miss Tan's sister, they were originally supposed to board flight SQ 878 at 11.55am yesterday. They were told that their flight was delayed to 9am today,but were not confident that the flight would take off. The three women had intended to tour Taipei for six days.

Said Miss Nah, a tourism-attractions operator: "SIA offered to help us book tickets on another flight for free, but we were not able to extend our leave from work.

"We are disappointed as we were looking forward to shopping there, but are also relieved that we aren't in the air during a typhoon."

Taiwanese television reporter Cheng Ho Ming, 47, arrived from Australia last Friday and was to board a flight back home at 11.55am yesterday. He was told that he could catch an 8pm flight yesterday, but the flight was delayed to 9am today.

Mr Cheng, who was travelling with his family of four, said: "We were told that there were no more rooms left in the airport hotel, so they offered to let us wait in the SIA lounge. I don't know how long we have to wait. I have to go back to work on Monday."

Hundreds of flights were delayed or cancelled and schools and offices shut as Nesat approached Taiwan yesterday. It was expected to hit the eastern part of the island late last night, before entering the Taiwan Strait today. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 137kmh, with gusts reaching up to 173kmh.

Several major events were cancelled, including the annual Ho-Hai-Yan Gongliao Rock Festival in New Taipei City. More than 36,000 soldiers are on standby to help with disaster relief.

• Additional reporting by Jose Hong and Jermyn Chow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 30, 2017, with the headline 'Hundreds held up at Changi as typhoon bears down on Taiwan'. Print Edition | Subscribe