Airlines moved fast yesterday adjusting flight paths and cancelling flights as an enormous category-five-strength super-typhoon barrelled its way across the Pacific, driving wind gusts of over 330 km/h and torrential rain.
Typhoon Nepartak is headed straight for Taiwan and will pass close to Hong Kong. Dragonair, Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines are among those to cancel flights.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued the following alert at 9.45am today: “Typhoon Nepartak, a Category 5 Typhoon is due to impact south-eastern Taiwan from 7am (local time) on 8 July. Expect strong winds, heavy rain and storm surges in affected areas. Transport links are affected. The Australian Office in Taipei is closed due to the typhoon.
“Monitor local media for updates, follow the advice of local authorities and check with your travel provider or airline for information on any transport disruptions.”
Domestic flights in Taiwan have been grounded, while 59 international flights were affected at last count. Schools and offices in Taiwan will close. Over 35,000 troops stand ready to help with evacuations and disaster relief.
For the first time, Flightradar24, the Swedish internet-based service that shows real-time aircraft flight information on a map, has made it possible to view the path of the typhoon and commercial airline flights in real time. In conjunction with Airbus Defence and Space and GomSpace, Flightradar24 has successfully integrated satellite-based weather imagery into its flight tracking.
Meanwhile, at least 18 flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan have been cancelled as Nepartak edges closer to Taiwan.
Cathay Pacific and Dragonair announced on Wednesday that six flights to Taipei and one flight to Taichung yesterday would be suspended. The batch of cancellations started to affect evening departures from 6pm last night, the South China Morning Post reported.
Further travel disruption is expected. Today (Friday), at least five Taipei to Hong Kong flights and one Taichung to Hong Kong flight will be cancelled.
Hong Kong’s Observatory storm tracker said Nepartak might pass within 400km of the territory. Passengers in HongKong and Taiwan are advised to check flight status on the websites of Hong Kong Airport and Hong Kong Airlines.
Nepartak, the first typhoon of the season, could hit the east coast of China after Taiwan.
Written by Peter Needham