Thu, Dec 16, 2010 - Page 12 News List

China Airlines chairman Wei steps down suddenly

SUDDEN RESIGNATION:Philip Wei has stepped down unexpectedly after leading the carrier into profitability in the fourth quarter of last year with a NT$4.61 billion profit

By Crystal Hsu, Lisa Wang and Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporters

Philip Wei (魏幸雄), chairman of China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 華航), the nation’s largest air carrier, has stepped down from his post for personal reasons, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.

NEW CHAIRMAN

In an unexpected announcement posted on the ministry’s Web site, the MOTC said it had appointed former China Steel Corp (中鋼) chairman Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) to take over the post.

The new appointment has been approved by the Cabinet, the statement said.

CAL spokesman Hamilton Liu (劉國芊) told the Taipei Times last night that he could not comment on Wei’s sudden resignation.

“We have yet to receive a formal notice [from the MOTC] and thus it is not convenient for us to comment now,” Liu said by telephone.

SUDDEN DEPARTURE

Liu said he and his colleagues had not had prior notice of the change, adding that the company is expected to meet the press soon after consulting with Wei.

Wei, 68, had joined CAL in June 1971. He worked at various posts at the company over the years before being named president in 2002 and chairman in 2005.

BACK TO PROFIT

Wei’s resignation came from nowhere as the company turned profitable in the fourth quarter of last year, when it posted a NT$4.61 billion (US$154.6 million) profit on the strength of the recovering local and global economies, as well as the increase of direct flights between China and Taiwan after the inception of such direct flights in 2008.

Despite the risk of rising oil prices, the carrier’s revenue grew 49 percent, to NT$110.62 billion (US$3.63 billion) in the first three quarters of this year, compared with NT$74.29 billion in the same period of last year, according to the company’s filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Net income amounted to NT$10.03 billion in the first three quarters, compared with losses of NT$4.99 billion a year ago.

Chang, vice chairman of China Development Financial Holding Corp (中華開發金控), stepped down from his post as chairman of China Steel, the nation’s largest steel maker, on June 23 amid criticism of his reforms at the Kaohsiung-based company.

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