Taipei, Sept. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's two biggest airlines China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways are expected to transport some 2,000 Taiwanese tourists stranded in the earthquake-stricken Japanese prefecture Hokkaido back home on Saturday, using extra flights and bigger aircraft, in addition to their existing services, the Tourism Bureau said.
Following resumption of full services on Saturday by the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido's Sapporo city, CAL will fly one additional flight at 7:10 p.m. Saturday from Sapporo to northern Taiwan's Taoyuan city, according to the bureau.
That service, along with two regular round-trip flights serving Sapporo-Taoyuan and Sapporo-Kaohsiung, are expected to transport 1,000 passengers back to Taiwan, the bureau said.
EVA Air on Saturday will also operate an extra flight at 6 p.m. from Sapporo to Taoyuan, and use bigger aircraft for its existing two round-trip flights between the two destinations and for a round-trip flight between Taoyuan and Hakodate, which is also in Hokkaido.
The bureau said EVA Air will likely also transport about 1,000 tourists back to Taiwan.
Taiwan's Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (???) on Friday flew from Tokyo to Hokkaido, to help arrange flight deployment, following criticism among some Taiwanese people that he and his office had not done enough to help Taiwanese tourists stranded at Kansai airport in Japan's Osaka city, which was struck by a strong typhoon on Tuesday.
Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's main islands, was struck by a magnitude-6.7 earthquake on Thursday.
Hsieh said while 700 Taiwanese were estimated to be stranded in Hokkaido, the real number is likely higher because there may be a significant number of independent tourists who did not join tour groups.
Hsieh said he has asked CAL and its subsidiary Tigerair Taiwan to fly additional flights to Hokkaido again on Sunday, and that CAL was considering this.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel