Hundreds of flights cancelled as Eva Air attendants go on strike in Taiwan

Eva Air said flights between Taipei and Hong Kong, as well as from Taiwan to Japan, Singapore, London and New York will be affected by the cancellations.
Eva Air said flights between Taipei and Hong Kong, as well as from Taiwan to Japan, Singapore, London and New York will be affected by the cancellations.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) - A flight attendants strike has forced Taiwan's Eva Airways to cancel hundreds of flights, just as the peak summer vacation season starts to get under way.

The airline will scrap a total of 852 flights in the eight days to June 28, an Eva Airways spokesman said by text message on Monday (June 24).

Flights between Taipei and Hong Kong - one of the world's busiest international air routes - as well as from Taiwan to Japan, Singapore, London and New York will be affected, according to Eva Air's website.

In Singapore, one Eva Air flight, BR225, arrived at Changi Airport from Taipei at 12.17pm on Monday, a check by the Straits Times showed. However, two others - BR125, scheduled to arrive at 1.50pm, and BR216, which was to depart at 3.10pm - were both cancelled. 

The attendants are demanding higher pay and better working conditions, with their union voting to strike last week after negotiations with the company failed.

The action, which started last Thursday, involves more than 2,000 staff, according to the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union's Facebook page. That would amount to almost half Eva Air's flight attendant roster as of May 31, data on its website shows. The airline said it is seeking to continue discussions with the attendants.

The cancellations are already impacting Eva Air. More than 150 flights were cancelled between last Thursday and Sunday, resulting in about NT$580 million (S$25 million) of lost revenue, the company said in a statement on Sunday. Its shares have dropped 4.5 per cent since the close of trading on Thursday.

The strike is the second in Taiwan this year. Staff of China Airlines, Taiwan's largest carrier, took action in February, stopping work for seven days. Pilots reached a deal with China Airlines on compensation that was estimated to add about NT$114 million to the carrier's annual costs.