EVA Air strike to affect 15,000 passengers today: carrier

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EVA Air said 45 out of 96 flights departing from Taiwan will be canceled, including 37 from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, one from Taipei Songshan Airport, two from Taichung Shui-nan Airport and five from Kaohsiung International Airport – affecting about 10,000 passengers. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — A strike by EVA Airways flight attendants is expected to affect 15,000 passengers and 71 flights on June 20, the carrier said, following the collapse of talks earlier in the day that triggered the labor action.

EVA Air said 45 out of 96 flights departing from Taiwan will be canceled, including 37 from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, one from Taipei Songshan Airport, two from Taichung Shui-nan Airport and five from Kaohsiung International Airport — affecting about 10,000 passengers.

A total of 26 out of 95 flights returning to Taiwan will be canceled — 18 to Taoyuan, two to Taichung, and six to Kaohsiung — impacting 5,000 passengers, the carrier said.

EVA Air said it will be able to maintain 60 percent of its transport capacity, with 1,400 out of a total of 4,200 flight attendants available for work.

Earlier in the day, EVA Air President Clay Sun (孫嘉明) apologized to the public for the inconvenience, but stressed that the airline will not change its position, particularly its opposition to a “no free ride” proposal from the union to allow only its members to receive higher hourly allowances for overseas flights, which excludes non-members.

This was a central point of dispute, with management suggesting such an arrangement would jeopardize flight safety and service quality as people holding the same position would not be paid the same.

Salaries and employee welfare for flight attendants taking part in the strike will be suspended for the duration of the action, Sun said, adding that if the strike results in EVA Air incurring losses, the company could suspend year-end bonuses and pay increases for all employees.

However, the Taoyuan Flight attendants Union (TFAU), which announced the strike would start at 4 p.m. Thursday, said the ball is firmly in EVA Air’s court.

“We don’t have a timetable as to how long the strike will last,” said TFAU Deputy Secretary-General Chou Sheng-kai (周聖凱), stressing that the solution lies in whether the company is willing to improve the flight attendants’ working environment.

However, the union also pledged that its members would continue to support local flights by UNI Air, an EVA subsidiary and one of Taiwan’s major domestic flight operators, which could yet be caught up in the dispute as many EVA flight attendants also work on UNI Air flights.

No UNI Air flights will be affected on Friday, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).

The ministry said the strike will affect 613 tourists in 26 tour groups on Friday, adding that it has been working with travel agencies, aviation, and tourism officials to help reschedule or refund their tours.

Meanwhile, the ministry has designated C5-C7 lounges at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for the use of EVA Air passengers waiting for flight reassignments, while an apron has been reserved for grounded EVA Air aircraft. ●

By Lee Hsin-Yin