China Airlines’ pilots strike affects Vancouver flights

Taiwan-based airline has cancelled at least 79 flights, including two to Vancouver and two out of Vancouver

A China Airlines plane waits at a gate at Vancouver International Airport | Glen Korstrom

China Airlines’ pilots strike is in its fourth day, and has started to impact flights between Vancouver and Taipei.

Two of the airline’s flights to Vancouver, and two flights out of Vancouver were cancelled on the weekend and, with no end to the strike action in sight, more cancelled flights are likely.

The airline has a list of cancelled flights on its website, and the flight to Vancouver today, which is set to land at 6:45 p.m., and then leave to return to Taipei at 12:40 a.m. on February 12, is not yet on the list.

The website shows that so far 79 flights have been cancelled since pilots went on strike early on February 8. The airline has been offering some compensation to passengers and helping passengers find flights on partner airlines. 

Some frustration is showing, however. "I will never use your company again," complained passenger Mandy Mattu in a Facebook post under a China Airlines message. "This is utterly ridiculous to leave your passengers to fend for themselves. I don't need a refund. I need a flight!!"

China Airlines' pilots’ union wants the airline to provide an additional backup pilot on flights that are more than eight hours long, as well as a clearer system of promotion, and a year-end bonus, among other demands.

The pilots timed the strike to hit during Lunar New Year celebrations, which is about a two-week period that is one of the busiest times of the year.

An estimated 70% of the airline’s 1,300 pilots are in the union.

Labour disruption at China Airlines has taken place before, as its flight crews went on strike for 24 hours in 2016.