Japan Air System crew strike affects thousands

TOKYO, Reuters

Disgruntled pilots and cabin crew of Japan’s third-largest airline began a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, affecting some 23,500 passengers.

The unionized workers at Japan Air System Co. Ltd. (JAS) said they were dissatisfied with working conditions and mid-year bonus payments, going on strike for the first time since April 1999.

JAS canceled 172 flights, or 42 percent of the scheduled domestic flights for Wednesday. About half of the airline’s flights are operated by non-unionized crew, a company spokesman said.

The 10 international flights will take off as scheduled, he added.

JAS joined the fray after recent threats of industrial action by other domestic and regional carriers to protest wage and other arrangements.

The strike comes a day after pilots and cabin crew of Japan’s number-two All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. (ANA) made a last-ditch decision not to go ahead with a scheduled strike although no agreement was reached with management over summer bonuses.

ANA pilots had planned a 24 hour strike from Wednesday noon, threatening to affect about 57,000 passengers on 354 domestic flights.

Industry leader Japan Airlines Co. Ltd. (JAL) also said on Wednesday its pilots’ labor union went on strike for domestic flights departing from Tokyo, but that no cancellations were planned.

Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. is still caught in a dispute with pilots, who have threatened to take unspecified industrial action which the airline said would cause “a great deal of disruption to almost everyone.”

In Korea, unionized ground workers at number two carrier Asiana Airlines voted to end a six-day walkout on Monday. The staff accepted a 4.5 percent pay raise and six percent increase in allowances, but not before causing the airline about US$9.3 million in losses.

A two-day walkout by pilots at rival Korean Airlines had ceased last Thursday.