EVA Air strike with hundreds of flights cancelled

Taipeh – The strike by Taiwan’s EVA Air cabin crew is set to continue, with 550 more flights cancelled through to mid-July after negotiations on work conditions and wages broke down this week.

Flight attendants at the airline have been on strike since June 20, disrupting more than 2,000 flights and affecting about 405,000 passengers, including the latest cancellations.

The strike is now the longest in Taiwan’s aviation history and has led to an estimated NT$1.75 billion (US$56 million) loss in revenue for EVA.

“The company is still delaying. We urge them to put down their prejudices and sign an agreement with us as soon as possible,” Judy Hsiao, a media liaison officer for the union, said after 11-hour talks with EVA broke down on Tuesday.

There was no indication of any resolution early on Wednesday, with the union representing EVA flight attendants urging the firm to come back to the negotiating table, saying no renewed contacts between the parties had been initiated.

EVA said it had no comment but in a statement late on Tuesday said it had reached “some initial agreements” with the union and that “the company’s door is always open for flight attendants to come home”.

On Tuesday evening, the union said more than 1,000 flight attendants and supporters joined a rally in front of Taiwan’s presidential office, calling on President Tsai Ing-wen to address what it sees as an “autocratic and authoritarian” management.

More than 2,000 flight attendants from EVA Air’s all-female cabin crew have been taking turns to join demonstrations outside the firm’s headquarters near Taoyuan International Airport since June 20.

The protests have been marked by signs, speeches and, at times, scuffles between cabin crew and EVA representatives.

EVA has filed several lawsuits against the union since the strike began, including asking for a daily compensation of NT$34 million for what it sees as an “illegal strike”.

EVA Air, best known internationally for the Hello Kitty livery on some of its jets, operates flights to many destinations around Asia as well as to North America and Europe.

Pilots at rival China Airlines went on strike in February, leading to 122 flight cancellations and NT$220 million in lost revenue. (Reuters)