Taiwan’s Far Eastern Air Transport suspends all flights from Dec.13

Taipei City wants to bar airline's chairman from leaving country

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FAT suspends flights from Dec.13 (photo courtesy of FAT).
FAT Chairman Chang Kang-wei (left, archived photo).

FAT suspends flights from Dec.13 (photo courtesy of FAT).

FAT Chairman Chang Kang-wei (left, archived photo). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — For the second time in its history, Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) announced it was suspending flights from Friday (December 13).

The sudden announcement on Thursday (Dec. 12) followed years of serious losses after the company declared bankruptcy in 2008 and resurrected three years later. The public first got wind of the news Thursday morning when the carrier announced online that its booking system would not operate due to “maintenance of the system,” CNA reported.

As FAT had not notified the authorities 60 days beforehand that it would lay off about 1,000 employees, the Taipei City Government said it would seek to ban Chairman Chang Kang-wei (張綱維) from leaving the country.

Travel agencies and media have said they were unable to contact Chang Thursday afternoon, as he had apparently switched off his cellphone.

One of the most prominent victims of the sudden ending of FAT services was reportedly Kuomintang presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who had booked a flight to the offshore island of Kinmen for a campaign event planned for Friday.

FAT was founded in 1957 as Taiwan’s first private airline, primarily transporting mail to the outer islands of Kinmen and Penghu. In 1981, one of the company’s aircraft crashed in the mountains of Miaoli County, killing 110 people, while in 1997, a Taiwanese passenger hijacked a flight to China.

At the time of its announcement, FAT had also been operating flights to China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the South Korean island of Jeju.