Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Military planes to be used in case of an airline strike

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai answers questions at the ministry’s office in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Hsiao Yu-hsin, Taipei Times

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) yesterday said that a ministry plan to use military aircraft to carry residents of outlying islands is not designed to help EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) management in its negotiations with flight attendants who are organizing a strike, but rather to prevent passengers from being stranded due to the labor dispute.

EVA flight attendants who are members of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union on Friday secured the right to organize a strike.

The union said that when and if union members go on strike would depend on the airline management’s attitude.

The ministry should not ask for the military’s assistance to deploy C-I30 aircraft to carry residents of outlying islands, as the move would only cause the airline to toughen its stance in the negotiations, it said.

Wang said in an interview with reporters before the ministry convened an emergency response meeting last night that Uni Air (立榮航空), an affiliate of EVA Airways, is the exclusive operator of Taipei-Lienchiang (Matsu) flight services and also flies to Kinmen and Penghu.

The ministry is obligated to ensure that the transportation of residents of outlying islands would continue despite the strike, he said.

“We are not helping the airline’s management, but you cannot leave passengers stranded at airports,” he said.

Among Uni Air’s 4,000 flight attendants, approximately 1,400 have said they are willing to work during the strike, he said, adding that they would be deployed to work in domestic flight services first.

The ministry would also engage shipping carriers and military aircraft to ferry passengers heading to or returning from outlying islands to support regional flights, Wang said.

Passengers boarding the military aircraft would still pay a fare of NT$1,000, he added.

The focus of the meeting was to identify the resources that the ministry can use if the union does go on strike, Wang said.

EVA has 85 international flight services, and the ministry would ascertain how many of the flights can be temporarily taken over by China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) or other members of Star Alliance, of which EVA is a member, he said.

Based on the division of labor laid out by the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Labor is in charge of arbitrating the dispute between EVA and its flight attendants, while the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is in charge of emergency response measures to minimize the impact of a strike, Wang said.

Negotiations hit an impasse as both sides continue to disagree on issues related to the “free-riders’ clause” and the appointment of a board director to represent labor, he added.

“We hope that they understand that we respect their right to hold strikes, but passengers are innocent,” he said.

“We have to prepare all emergency response measures. Hopefully, we would not have to use any of them,” Wang said.

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