Typhoon Koinu airport chaos in Hong Kong: system to be reviewed after thousands left stranded with shutdown of express service

“It’s important to have the Airport Express to clear the huge number of passengers,” Yiu conceded. “We will communicate with the MTR to see if we can maintain limited services in bad weather so passengers won’t have to wait for so long.”

The MTR Corporation gradually resumed Airport Express services after midnight by offering 12 trains until Monday 3am, following the lowering of the typhoon signal back to No 8 at 11.50pm on Sunday.

Yiu said the authority had contacted the city’s taxi associations following the suspension of Airport Express services, but there were only dozens of cabs heading to the airport each hour.

“We will work with the Transport Department to see if more can be done on the taxi front,” he said, despite noting the airport was not the only place in the city reeling from the problem on Sunday night.

“With the arrival of more than 10,000 passengers, we can only solve the problem with mass transport.”

Yiu said flight operations at the airport remained normal on Monday with fewer than 10 cancelled, similar to that of the day before despite the typhoon.

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A 55-year-old Filipino domestic worker, who only gave her name as Rowena, arrived in Hong Kong at around 8pm on Sunday but was stuck in the airport for the night.

“I know the bus is suspended, MTR is suspended,” she said, adding that she tried to call for a taxi but in vain. “I just stayed inside [the terminal]. I never tried to go out because I know it’s heavy rain [and] strong wind … [I] just slept on the chairs.”

She said she felt helpless as airport staff did not offer any support, not even water.

Tom Tong, who arrived in Hong Kong from Singapore at 6.30am on Monday morning, said his friends had sent him pictures of the long queues in the airport on Sunday night.

The 32-year-old financial adviser said he was worried about his trip but was glad to see the situation “back to normal” in the morning. He added the incident did not affect his views on Hong Kong as the situation could not be fully controlled.

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Some travellers, meanwhile, complained about taxis overcharging.

Having arrived in Hong Kong from the United States on Monday morning, a tourist, who gave his name as Sam, said his ride from the airport to Hong Kong station was smooth but he was trying to find his way to a hotel in Wan Chai.

“I feel like I am stuck here … I tried to take the taxi but they’re saying they don’t have any insurance so they are charging HK$350 (US$45),” he said. “That is too ridiculous. I think HK$100 should be fine … It is reasonable pricing but HK$350 is too much.”

Sam said he would not consider taking the MTR as he could walk 10 minutes from the station to his hotel in the rain.

Kevin Yiu, 59, who returned to Hong Kong from a seven-day trip in Taiwan on Sunday night, spent his night at the airport as he could not return home on outlying island Peng Chau.

“It is impossible for me to go home … I have to wait for the typhoon signal No 8 to be downgraded and ferry services to resume,” the gardener said.

He added that his friends, who lived at Kowloon and Fanling, later shared a ride out on Sunday night. They were charged HK$800 on top of the usual fare.

“I don’t know if it is ethical,” he said.

A taxi ride from the airport to Mong Kok normally costs HK$260, while a trip from the airport to Fanling costs around HK$300.

The MTR Corp on Monday morning said the closing time for its in-town check-in service had been extended from 90 minutes to 120 minutes before flight departure.

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