SINGAPORE - Singapore’s Scoot airlines on Sunday (Jan 26) despatched a special flight to Hangzhou to bring back nine Singaporean passengers and 11 crew members who had been quarantined in the Chinese city for more than a day.
The aircraft was expected to arrive back at Changi Airport at about 1.40am on Monday.
It is understood that the passengers and crew could be taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital to be quarantined.
Last Friday, Scoot flight TR188 landed in Hangzhou. All 314 passengers on the flight were isolated at Hangzhou International Airport and one male passenger was later taken for further blood tests.
Explaining what happened, Scoot said that due to the temporary suspension of all public transport networks in China’s Hubei province, the carrier had cancelled all flights between Singapore and Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, from Jan 23 to Feb 2.
Those who had booked these cancelled flights were given the option to re-route their flight to other destinations within China, Macau or Hong Kong, or get a full refund.
Of the 314 passengers on flight TR188, about 110 were passengers who had originally planned to fly to Wuhan but chose the option of re-routing their flight to Hangzhou.
They included people who came from Wuhan.
Upon landing, these 110 passengers had to undergo enhanced health screening at Hangzhou International Airport. From that pool, one had to be sent for further blood tests, said the Scoot spokesman. It is not known what his results were.
Passengers of the flight whom ST spoke to said that they spent almost 13 hours at Hangzhou airport before they were taken to a hotel in the city to be quarantined.
These passengers said they were given blankets, food and water by the authorities while they were quarantined at the airport.
A passenger said that in the hotel they were put up in later, they were given coats and other warm clothing as the heating was not working.
One of the Singaporean passengers who was isolated is the father of a four-year-old boy. They were both travelling to Hangzhou to be with their family and celebrate Chinese New Year.
The man, who declined to be named, said that he was frustrated that Scoot did not inform the other passengers about how TR188 had people from Wuhan on board.
Another passenger of TR188, a 52-year-old French man who works in Singapore and was travelling to meet his wife in Hangzhou, shared similar frustrations.
The man, who spoke to ST on the phone from the hotel he was quarantined at, said that Scoot should have informed other passengers about the passengers from Wuhan.
“I had earlier discussed with my wife if I should even travel to China to be with her, but we looked at the number of cases and Hangzhou did not seem to be risky, so I decided to take the flight,” said the man, who did not want to be named.
“But it is a different level of risk when you are stuck in an airplane with more than 100 people who have possibly been infected. If I had known, I would not have gone on the flight.”
Scoot despatched the special aircraft from Changi Airport at about noon on Sunday. It arrived in Hangzhou at about 4.30pm and left for Singapore later in the night.