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Gov’t to probe EVA over storm flights

EVA Air had defended its decision to operate most of its scheduled flights in Taiwan on Tuesday, even while other airlines had canceled their flights as a precaution against Typhoon Megi.

EVA Air denied that it was ignoring the risks of flying during a typhoon, stressing that flights had been allowed to land and take off because conditions at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport had met the safety standards.

The Taiwan-based airline faced strong criticism from social media users following unconfirmed reports that some of EVA Air’s crew were injured when strong turbulence hit its planes.

Air traffic at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was in disarray, and most flights were canceled in the wake of Megi.

Denying that any of its crew members were injured, EVA Air maintained that all of its Tuesday flights had operated according to safety protocol and that it had not risked the lives of its crew and passengers.

EVA Air did not fly under “clearly impossible” conditions, company spokesman Ko Chin-cheng said, according to the United Evening News. He added that the Taoyuan airport had remained open Tuesday.

Ko noted that about a dozen EVA flights had been diverted to Taichung, Hong Kong or Macau when at times the Taoyuan airport’s conditions became too risky for them to land.

EVA said it was not shifting blame to airport control for the decision to maintain a normal flight schedule and that it only wished to emphasize that all flights were allowed to take off and land when there were no safety concerns.

EVA said it thanked its crew for working and providing services to passengers during the typhoon.

It vowed to take legal action against social media users who spread false rumors about EVA crew injuries.

The United Evening News said EVA was not the only airline that allowed flights to approach the Taoyuan airport Tuesday. A TransAsia Airways flight and a Malindo Air flight attempted to land at the Taoyuan airport, but failed and had to be diverted to other airports.

Some netizens said EVA set a poor precedent by flying during storms, giving “overbearing” passengers an excuse to criticize airlines for choosing to cancel flights during typhoons.

The EVA spokesman was cited by the United Evening News as saying that it would be “convenient” to cancel flights when a typhoon approaches, but that airlines had to consider the inconvenience to passengers.

After a typhoon leaves, it is difficult to accommodate passengers whose flights had been canceled, Ko reportedly said.

In addition, there are extra costs for airlines when their flights have to be diverted to other airports during typhoons, Ko said.