Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on June 15 relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on passengers transfering to connecting flights.
In a Taipei Times article titled “Best move to re-establish passenger transits first” (June 7, page 8), I said that before Taiwan reopens its borders, the government should allow the nation’s international airports to resume transit passenger operations so that their operators and airlines have enough time to review staffing and equipment needs.
This would enable Taiwan’s airports to avoid following in the footsteps of airports overseas, which have been inundated with long flight delays due to staff and equipment shortages.
One example that attracted significant attention internationally was the serious “baggage pileups” following a “technical issue” with the luggage system at London Heathrow Airport.
Although Taoyuan airport sensibly opted for a “soft restart” of transit passenger operations, it has experienced glitches with luggage not being transferred to connecting flights on time.
This was caused by new rules implemented by the Civil Aviation Administration, which require that the passenger cabin and cargo holds of inbound aircraft are fully sanitized after passengers and crew disembark.
The regulations also stipulate that after sanitation, the cabin doors must be shut and disinfectant allowed to sit for 10 minutes, after which the air-conditioning should be restarted and run for five minutes.
Only after this process — after the aircraft has been positioned at the gate for about 30 minutes — can luggage be unloaded. If there is a large number of passengers on a flight, or there are disabled passengers, the unloading of luggage could be delayed another 10 to 15 minutes.
This is why inbound passengers now experience long wait times at baggage claim.
As for transferring passengers, once their checked-in luggage is unloaded from an inbound plane, it is sent to a basement area where it passes through a security check before being loaded onto a luggage rack for the connecting flight, and later sent to an outbound aircraft. This process on average takes 30 minutes.
However, under the new regulations, the transfer of luggage from one flight to the next takes at least 50 to 70 minutes.
This can result in outbound flights being delayed, or luggage of connecting passengers being left behind, which causes a whole new set of problems for the airport, and could result in customer dissatisfaction and complaints.
Airport officials should treat this problem seriously.
Moreover, the disinfection regimen of passenger cabins and cargo holds does not conform with COVID-19 prevention, nor the operational principles of aircraft air-conditioning, which is usually turned off in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft. The only exception regards animals being transported in the tail bulkhead of the aircraft, thus requiring a comfortable temperature.
If a flight’s cargo holds are contaminated by SARS-CoV-2 — but not the passenger cabin — virus-laden air would be blown into the cabin during the stipulated 5 minutes of air circulation and filtration following sanitization.
Although high-efficiency particulate air filtration systems that are installed in passenger aircraft are able to filter out 99 percent of viruses and are considered safe, mixing air of the cabin and cargo holds does not tally with the logic of COVID-19 prevention.
Outside of Taiwan, international airports carry out separated sanitizations of passenger cabins and cargo holds.
Taoyuan airport management should consult with the government and modify its disinfection regimen. Not only would this improve safety, but separated disinfection would also reduce delays to luggage unloading and ensure smooth transfers.
Anderson Fu is a senior traffic manager at an airline.
Translated by Edward Jones
No matter what indicator you use, Russian President Vladimir Putin is winning in the energy markets. Moscow is milking its oil cash cow, earning hundreds of millions of US dollars every day to bankroll the invasion of Ukraine and buy domestic support for the war. Once European sanctions against Russian crude exports kick in from November, the region’s governments will face some tough choices as the energy crisis starts to bite consumers and companies. Electricity costs for homes and businesses are set to soar from October, as the surge in oil income allows Putin to sacrifice gas revenue and squeeze supplies to
In an August 12 Wall Street Journal report, Chinese sources contend that in their July 28 phone call, United States President Joe Biden was told by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping (習近平) that “he had no intention of going to war with the US” over House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s then upcoming visit to Taiwan. However, there should be global alarm that Xi did use that visit to begin the CCP’s active war against democracy in Taiwan and globally, and that the Biden Administration’s response has been insufficient. To hear CCP officials, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesmen, and a
Much of the foreign policy conversation in the US over the past two weeks has centered on whether US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi ought to have visited Taiwan. Her backers pointed out that there was precedent for such a visit — a previous House speaker and US Cabinet members had visited Taiwan — and that it is important for officials to underscore the US’ commitment to Taiwan in the face of increasing Chinese pressure. Critics argued that the trip was ill-timed, because Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) would likely feel a need to respond, lest he appear weak
United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) founder and former chairman Robert Tsao (曹興誠) on Friday last week pledged to donate NT$3 billion (US$100 million) to help Taiwan protect itself from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aggression. While still UMC chairman, Tsao gained a reputation for supporting unification with China and backing parties such as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the New Party and the People First Party, which have similar leanings. During a TV show on Monday, host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) asked Tsao which politicians he now supported. Tsao said he had supported the New Party when it formed, had become disappointed by People First