(Refiles to amend headline)
TAIPEI, June 23 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s largest airline, China Airlines Ltd, said it had cancelled some flights to Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines on Friday as hundreds of its flight attendants prepared to go on strike over changes to their working conditions.
The cancellation of eight out of 92 flights on Friday will affect nearly 1,600 passengers, China Airlines President Chang Yu-hern told a news briefing late Thursday.
China Airlines’ flight attendants have been threatening to strike and the move comes as peak summer season travel begins.
The strike, which will begin from midnight Thursday, comes as Taiwan’s new president is scheduled to depart for Panama and Paraguay, her first foreign trip since taking power in May, on a chartered China Airlines flight. The chartered flight on Friday will not be affected by the strike, China Airlines said.
“A strike is a means, not an end. The most important is to enter into labor negotiations,” Chang said, adding that the company was ready to continue negotiations.
Hundreds of the airlines’ flight attendants protested outside China Airlines office in the capital Taipei on Thursday evening, blocking half of the street and chanting: “Flight attendants strike. We will succeed.”
“We want to let China Airlines know that this will affect its operations. This is the purpose of the strike,” Angus Tsao told Reuters. Tsao, 43, one of the protesters, has been a flight attendant for 17 years with China Airlines.
China Airlines asked flight attendants from this month to report into work at the company’s headquarters in Taoyuan, the main international airport and nearly an hour’s drive from Taipei, protesters said.
Flight attendants said they were previously able to report into work at the local airport in Taipei.
The new requirement effectively reduces the rest period for flight attendants between their flying schedules, according to one union representing the striking workers. (Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Keith Weir)