(Taiwan News) — The China Airlines division of the Taoyuan Pilots Union has begun striking as of 6 a.m. Friday morning.
China Airlines rushed to cancel flights scheduled to take off over the next few days. CEO Hsieh Shih-chien (謝世謙) said 90 percent of flights departing from Taoyuan International Airport before 4 p.m. on Friday will remain unaffected.
Hsieh called an emergency press conference Friday morning to announce the company had initiated crisis response measures. Passenger safety is the number one priority, he stated, and China Airlines has dispatched all available manpower to reduce the impact of the strike as much as possible.
The company executive said all flights from Taipei Songshan and Taichung airports with continue as scheduled.
The pilots union also held a press conference, during which chairwoman Lee Hsin-yen (李信燕) reiterated its five major demands, namely: prevent pilots from becoming fatigued, assign three pilots for long haul flights over eight hours, assign four pilots for flights over twelve hours, transparentize the co-pilot training system, and guarantee pilots' working rights.
CNA reports out of the 900 Pilots Union China Airlines division members, 700 have already responded to the call to strike.
The union has collected over 100 flying certificates from pilots—meaning they have voluntarily forfeited their right to operate an aircraft for the time being—but expects the number to continue growing. Lee said there is currently no plan as to when the strike will end.
Strikers convened at Taoyuan Airport Friday morning to address questions (CNA image)
Standing director of the union, Chen Pei-pei (陳蓓蓓), told CNA that pilots were still receiving calls at 2, 3 and 4 a.m. Friday morning urging them to fly, which would be a serious compromise to aviation safety.
25 flights over the next two days have been canceled as a result of the strike. China Airlines indicated more had called off in total, but several were canceled prior to the announcement, and another will be reinstated.
Hsieh said over 3,000 passengers will be affected in total.
The strike comes after Taoyuan Pilots Union claimed China Airlines refused to meet demands for higher pay and longer rest hours following complaints some pilots were over-worked and suffering from fatigue. Negotiations broke down earlier this week after the union announced it would no longer communicate one-on-one with company executives.
Information about flight cancellations can be found in English on the China Airlines website here.