TAIPEI (CNA) – A strike by pilots has forced China Airlines, one of Taiwan’s two major carriers, to cancel 26 flights departing from or arriving in the country Friday through Sunday, according to the airline.
China Airlines announced the cancelations on its website (https://calec.china-airlines.com/typhoon/FLIGHT_INFORMATION_en.aspx) after news late Thursday night that hundreds of its 1,300 pilots could go on strike on 06:00. All three major airports in Taiwan were expected to be affected.
The canceled flights include those for destinations such as Los Angeles, Manila, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
It is the first time that Taiwan’s air travel during a Chinese New Year holiday has been disrupted by a strike although China Airlines was hit by a 24-hour strike of its flight attendants in June 2016, forcing 76 flights to be canceled with at least 20,000 passengers being affected.
It remained unclear how long the latest strike would last.
Passengers can expect long delays Friday at Taoyuan and Kaohsiung International Airports and Taipei Songshan Airport following the announcement made close to midnight Thursday by the China Airlines branch of Pilots Union Taoyuan.
Out of a total of 1,300, some 500 China Airlines pilots responded positively earlier in the week to a questionnaire over the possibility of a strike during one of the busiest periods of the year for air travel.
The Ministry of Transportation said in the early hours of Friday that it was setting up an emergency center to cope with the issue. The 9-day holiday is due to end on Sunday.
Many of the China Airlines pilots have complained about long hours on long-distance flights and have criticized the company’s management for refusing to make improvements for fear of higher costs.