Taiwan’s main gateway operating smoothly despite pilot strike

TAIPEI (CNA) – Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TTIA) experienced smooth operations Saturday during the second day of strikes by pilots employed by China Airlines (CAL), one of the country’s leading carriers.

Hung Yu-fen (洪玉芬), senior vice president of Taoyuan International Airport Corp., which oversees TTIA, said the strike has not made a big impact on the airport and that “everything is under control.” On Saturday, a total of nine CAL flights were canceled at TTIA, four outbound and five inbound, affecting about 1,028 passengers, Hung said, adding that the affected passengers were all able to board other flights to their destinations through codeshare flights.

According to an announcement on the CAL website, a total of 31 flights were canceled across the country from Friday to Saturday, while three more flights Sunday will also be canceled.

CAL pilots began their first strike Friday due to complaints about long working hours on long-distance flights, while many have also criticized the company’s management for refusing to make improvements for fear of higher costs.

The strike comes during the Feb. 2-10 Lunar New Year holiday period, one of the busiest times of year for air travel.

It is the first time that Taiwan’s air travel during a Lunar New Year holiday has been disrupted by a strike, although CAL 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 affected.

By Chiu Chun-chin, Sunrise Huang and William Yen