Taiwan’s China Airlines and striking pilots prepare for midnight talks

CAL canceled 21 flights scheduled for Wednesday, affecting more than 3,000 passengers

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CAL decided to cancel 21 Wednesday flights ahead of talks scheduled to start at 1 a.m. the same day.

CAL decided to cancel 21 Wednesday flights ahead of talks scheduled to start at 1 a.m. the same day. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Following two rounds of failed talks to try and resolve a strike which has been going on for five days, China Airlines (CAL) and the Taoyuan Union of Pilots (TUP) agreed to launch a third attempt at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Since the strike began last Friday at 6 a.m. amid demands over pilot fatigue, thousands of passengers have seen their flights canceled at a crucial time when the Lunar New Year holiday was ending. Earlier rounds of negotiations Saturday afternoon and Monday evening ended in stalemate, with the two sides accusing each other of inflexibility.

The union announced Tuesday that in order to show how pilots were really overworked and tired, they were demanding the new talks start at 1 a.m. Wednesday and would last a full eight hours, the Central News Agency reported.

Both CAL management and the Ministry of Transportation, which oversees the discussions, agreed to the timing and to a demand to allow the media to attend the full meeting. The two opposing sides earlier accused each other of being insincere and of going back on promises during the talks.

Over the past few days, opponents and supporters of the strike have taken more vocal stances. The critics say there should be a warning period of several days, as travelers and holidaymakers were unable to make alternative arrangements during this strike, which erupted less than a day after the TUP announced it might take action.

Strike supporters accuse the airline of exploiting its staff at the expense of passengers’ safety.

In the meantime, CAL announced the cancelation of 11 flights departing Taiwan and 10 arriving on Wednesday, affecting 3,136 passengers, according to CNA. The full list is available at this CAL website. On Tuesday, more than 5,000 passengers saw 24 flights being canceled as a result of the strike.