Tue, Nov 22, 2016 - Page 1 News List

TransAsia abruptly halts flights

IN DENIAL:When people unable to book tickets with TransAsia began to suspect serious problems, the airline at first refused to admit it was planning to suspend flights

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Aircraft stand outside a TransAsia Airways hangar at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday confirmed that TransAsia Airways Corp (復興航空) is to suspend services for one day today, adding that the airline could be fined up to NT$3 million (US$93,750) for halting flights without seeking prior approval.

CAA Deputy Director-General Fang Chih-wen (方志文) said that the administration had not known that TransAsia planned to suspend services until it received a telephone call from the airline yesterday afternoon, adding that the company had not submitted an application requesting the cessation.

The company also did not explain during the phone conversation with the administration why it had taken the decision, he said.

This is probably the first time that a domestic airline has halted flights without the CAA’s approval, he said, adding that the company has contravened the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法).

“We have officially notified the airline that it needs to address the situation, or it will be fined between NT$600,000 and NT$3 million,” he said, adding that the airline has also been told to properly handle the refunds of tickets for today’s flights.

Agency statistics show that TransAsia’s unexpected move is estimated to affect more than 5,000 passengers on 56 domestic flights, 12 international flights and 16 cross-strait flights.

Far Eastern Air Transport (遠航) also suspended flights to Cambodia without giving notification, the agency said.

The Tourism Bureau said that TransAsia’s move would affect 3,000 tour group travelers, both those scheduled to return home and those planning to travel abroad.

The CAA official met with the representatives of other Taiwanese airlines yesterday to request their assistance in taking on passengers previously booked to fly with TransAsia, Fang said.

Asked whether TransAsia’s suspension of services would continue, Fang said that it would depend on the results of a board meeting today.

TransAsia yesterday morning at first denied public suspicions that it would suspend services, following multiple reports from members of the public that they were unable to book tickets with the airline, saying its ticketing system was not working.

Founded in 1951, TransAsia has been struggling to stay in the black after two crashes, in July 2014 and February last year.

The company is estimated to have paid close to NT$1.2 billion in settlements to the victims of those accidents and their families.

TransAsia in August announced that its subsidiary, low-cost carrier V Air (威航), would suspend operations from Oct. 4 through Oct. 3 next year.

The Taiwan Stock Exchange approved TransAsia’s request to suspend share trading ahead of material information disclosure.

TranAsia would need to complete an application and approval procedures to resume trading, the exchange said.

The bourse fined the company NT$1 million for breaking rules governing material information disclosure after it canceled a news conference scheduled for yesterday evening and instead issued a statement.

TransAsia shares yesterday fell 7.14 percent to NT$5.2 in Taipei trading, with the sell-off quickening in pace toward noon. Turnover surged to 10.74 million shares, compared with 398,000 shares in the previous session.

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