As the world celebrates the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, pilots working for Taiwan-based China Airlines began a strike causing delays and the disruption of travel plans of China Airlines customers.
The airline saw around 700 pilots who are union members walk out of the job citing long work hours leading to pilot fatigue, after negotiations between the company and the labor union were delayed and eventually broke down. Among the pilots’ demands are longer rest periods and for more pilots to work long-haul flights over 12 hours. In a statement, the pilots apologized to the affected passengers while pointing out that they view the strike was necessary for changes to improve passenger safety.
Addressing the demands, China Airlines has stated that more than half of its pilots showed up for work, and the Taiwanese Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has been facilitating negotiations between the two parties. While the airline has given concessions by having three pilots for flights within eight hours and four on flights exceeding 12 hours, it has stated the union’s proposal would be difficult to implement citing a lack of pilots.
With no end of the strike in sight, the strike has affected more than 4000 customers in Taiwan, and China Airlines’ website reported cancellations of flights to cities such as Singapore, Manila, Tokyo, Rome, Vienna, Sydney, and New York. According to a recent regulatory finding, the airline lost NT $78 million (USD $2.5 million) after 60 flights were cut between February 8-10.
For travelers affected, the airline has made a dedicated page for information on affected flights and for refund/rebooking at https://news.china-airlines.com/emer/info_en.aspx.