TAIPEI – A strike by China Airlines pilots in Taiwan entered into its third day with the cancellation of 15 flights on Sunday morning after talks to end the logjam broke down without any headway.
Around 400 of the CAL’s over 1,300 pilots have been taking part in the strike since Friday which so far led to the cancellation of 22 flights and another four delayed at the end of the Lunar New Year holiday – the island’s busiest period for air travel.
The biggest carrier in Taiwan announced the cancellation of 17 flights for Monday and one for Tuesday “due to pilot union strike.”
“We are sorry for any inconvenience caused,” it said in the list of cancelled flights to and from various destinations like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Vancouver, New York and Brisbane.
More than 5,000 passengers have been affected due to the strike.
The two sides met late Saturday for talks to end the stalemate but there was no consensus on any of the demands of the striking pilots.
Pilots union president Lee Hsin-yen told reporters that no date has been set for resumption of talks over their various demands including concessions to prevent pilot fatigue.
The union urged CAL to increase the number of pilots and co-pilots in flights longer than eight and 12 hours, as well as better pay and promotion process.
Among other demands include a guarantee for full year-end bonus packages for employee.
The airlines, in which the government holds a 35 percent stake, had initially responded to the strike by threatening to suspend the contracts of striking pilots but decided against going ahead with it on Saturday.
This is the first strike by pilots in Taiwan during the Lunar New Year holidays, the most important annual celebrations in the island, during which the region witnesses heavy air traffic.
In June 2016, CAL pilots had led a 24-hours strike leading to the cancellation of 76 flights, affecting more than 20,000 passengers.
The Taiwanese transport ministry has established an emergency center to minimize problems faced by travelers, during a nine-day holiday period for the Lunar New Year celebrations which end on Sunday.
Chinese communities across Asia are celebrating the Lunar New Year, which is traditionally celebrated with families and triggers massive numbers of people returning to their hometowns as well as visiting tourist destinations during the holidays.
Taiwan is among the most popular destinations for tourists from China and other countries in the region during the holidays.
Travel website Agoda ranked Taipei as the third most popular destination, based on booking statistics, during the holiday which began last Saturday and runs through to Sunday.