Eva Air cancels hundreds more flights as cabin crew strike drags on

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's Eva Airways 2618.TW has canceled 550 more flights scheduled through mid-July as a cabin crew strike entered its 14th day, after latest negotiations on work conditions and wages broke down this week.

Eva Air's flight attendants and families participate in an event to gather support for the strike over work conditions in Taipei, Taiwan July 2, 2019. Picture taken July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Flight attendants at the Taiwanese airline went on strike on June 20 after a months-long discussion between the two yielded no results, disrupting over 2,000 flights and impacting about 405,000 passengers including the latest cancellations.

The strike, the longest in Taiwan’s aviation history where labor unrest is uncommon, has led Eva to estimate a revenue loss of about T$1.75 billion ($56 million).

“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 an 11-hour long talk with Eva broke down on Tuesday.

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

Eva said it had no comment when contacted by Reuters.

In a statement late on Tuesday, Eva 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 over 1,000 flight attendants and supporters joined a rally in front of Taiwan’s presidential office, calling 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 T$34 million ($1 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 2610.TW went on strike in February, leading to 122 flight cancellations and T$220 million in lost revenue.

($1 = 31.0890 Taiwan dollars)

Reporting By Yimou Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar