TAIPEI – A strike by China Airlines pilots in Taiwan entered into its sixth day on Wednesday with nearly 100 flights cancelled so far even as talks between the company and the striking pilots made some progress to break the stalemate.
The strike since Friday has affected thousands of passengers at the end of the Lunar New Year holidays – the busiest period for air travel in the island.
During the third round of negotiations, held early on Wednesday, the airlines – the biggest carrier in Taiwan – tentatively agreed to some of the demands made by the Pilots Union Taoyuan, which has convened the strike, Taiwanese state-run agency CNA reported.
The airline management agreed to assign three flight crew members in only two of the 10 routes requested by pilots.
At a press conference on Friday, the union had asked CAL to assign four pilots and co-pilots instead of the usual three to all flights scheduled to take more than 12 hours.
It had also said that flights of duration of at least eight hours needed three flight crew members instead of two.
Currently, flights of over eight hours have one pilot and one co-pilot while those of over 12 hours have three pilots and co-pilots.
Ninety-six flights have been cancelled so far due to the strike and another 40 scheduled over the next few days will also not be operating, according to the company’s website.
Taiwanese Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung on Wednesday asked both sides to keep the welfare of consumers and flight safety a priority.
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.
The strike will not end unless the union and the company sign an agreement on the proposed demands, Lee Hsin-yen, president of the Pilots Union Taoyuan, told the media on Wednesday.
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.