EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) yesterday said it would continue with its plan to recruit 200 flight attendants — including men for the first time in decades — to meet rising capacity, as a flight attendants’ strike entered its fifth day.
The carrier expects its capacity to increase 3 percent this year after receiving six Boeing 787 Dreamliners, EVA president Clay Sun (孫嘉明) told a news conference in Taoyuan after the company’s annual general meeting.
EVA had planned to begin its recruitment early this month, but was forced to postpone it because of the strike, Sun said, without saying when it would start its recruitment.
“We have been mulling over this [hiring more male attendants] for a while, as several male ground crew members have expressed an interest in transferring positions to flight attendants,” Sun said.
EVA, which has very few male flight attendants, was hesitant because it has not figured out how to adapt its facilities, such as rest cabins, to accommodate more male members, he said.
However, ground crews would be ideal flight attendants as they have experience dealing with clients and are familiar with EVA’s culture, he said.
“Some graduates did not think straight before applying for this job, mistakenly assuming that being a flight attendant was easy and comfortable, and then accusing us of lying. We did not. There is stress and challenge in this job, like every other job,” he said.
EVA has not finalized how many male flight attendants it plans to hire, but would welcome ground crews joining the ranks first, he said.
The company will try to maintain 50 percent of its flights operational in the following weeks, and hope more attendants would return to work, Sun said, adding that more than 10 have returned to work.
It estimated that a total of 852 flights would have been canceled from Thursday last week to Friday.
Another 169 flights would be canceled on Saturday and Sunday, affecting 32,500 passengers, it said.
EVA said that it would announce tomorrow which flights next month would be canceled to reduce the impact on travelers.
The company said it is willing to talk with the union at any time, but is sticking to its bottom line, rejecting the appointment of a labor director, the “no free-ride” proposal and increasing the per diem from US$3 to US$5 per hour.
EVA’s share price slid 1 percent to NT$14.85 yesterday in Taipei trading.
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