Scores of CAL flights canceled due to flight attendants' strike

Taipei, June 24 (CNA) A strike by flight attendants of China Airlines (CAL) that started Friday caused cancellations on the first day of at least 67 flights operated by the airline, which is Taiwan's largest air carrier. Sixty-seven CAL flights that were scheduled to depart from Taoyuan and Songshan airports between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Friday were canceled, affecting at least 20,000 passengers and resulting in revenue losses of about NT$160 million (US$4.94 million).

However, all CAL flights from Tainan and Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan were running on time as of noon Friday, as the flight attendants there are not members of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union that called the strike. The airline said it had scheduled 92 flights out of Taiwan on Friday and had arranged for passengers to take alternative flights or put off their departure.

TransAsia Airways, Cathay Airways, and EVA Airways were accepting passengers with CAL tickets to some destinations on Friday. CAL was also offering US$100 coupons to each passenger affected by the cancellations. At Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, stranded passengers milled about, hoping to "find a resolution" to the problem. At Songshan Airport, 30 CAL members of the union were distributing leaflets in the lobby to inform people about the issues, while some passengers expressed support for the flight attendants and others complained about the inconvenience.

CAL deputy general manager Yu Chih said that if the carrier can resume normal schedule after 10 p.m. Friday, all passengers will arrive at their destinations in one or two days. In an effort to help clear the backlog, CAL has sought assistance from Japan Airlines and Tiger Air to fly passengers to Northeast Asia; from Cathay Airways, Thai Airways and Philippine Airlines to take passengers to Southeast Asia; and from China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines to transport passengers to mainland China.

The strike has also affected inbound flights from China, Bangkok and Jakarta that would have been the return leg of flights from Taiwan. Several passengers at the CAL counter at Beijing International Airport said they were dissatisfied because CAL had given no advance notice of the flight cancellations. In Thailand, two flights from Bangkok to Taipei were canceled, the airline's office there said.

The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union, which has more than 2,500 CAL members, voted Tuesday to proceed with the strike after a breakdown of its talks with CAL management over work hours, subsides and the place where flight attendants are required to clock in.

The union has threatened to indefinitely maintain the strike, the first on record in Taiwan's airline industry, if the workers' conditions are not met.

Information on CAL flight schedules is available on the carrier's website (https://www.china-airlines.com/tw/zh/fly/flight-status/index, or via its service center phone line at 412-9000. (By Wei Shu and Lilian Wu)