A shortage of pilots has caused chaos for thousands of passengers during peak travel season in Asia, as cockpit crew complaining of overwork extended a strike at China Airlines, Taiwan’s biggest carrier, to a fourth day.
The strike and the ensuing cancellations at the Taiwanese carrier — while the Lunar New Year holidays were winding down — underscore the paucity of skilled air crew in the Asia-Pacific region, where travel demand is set to double in the next two decades. Boeing forecasts about a quarter of a million new pilots will be needed over the period in this region as 40% of the world’s fleet is expected to be delivered to Asian carriers.
Since the pilots’ union of China Airlines decided to stay away from work starting early February 8, the carrier has scrapped more than 60 flights, including 26 for Monday, taking the total to 10% of its scheduled operations, according to Jason Liu, a spokesman for the company. The airline has lost NT$78 million ($2.5 million) in sales after 60 services from February 8 to 10 were cut, according to a regulatory filing.
Flights affected by the strike so far include those between Taipei and Hong Kong — the world’s busiest international air route — as well as from Taipei to Bangkok, Gatwick, Rome and Vienna, according to China Airlines’ website.
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