Executive Yuan Vice Premier Lin Hsi-yao held a news conference today to address public concerns about the abrupt suspension of flights and dissolution of TransAsia Airways, one of Taiwan’s largest carriers. Prior to the news conference, the vice premier met with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), Ministry of Labor (MOL), Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Financial Supervisory Commission to discuss each agency’s response and subsequent measures.
TransAsia unexpectedly announced at 3 p.m. Monday that all of its flights would be suspended today. The MOTC promptly instructed the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) to set up an emergency response team and convened a special meeting with airline companies, airports and the Tourism Bureau to ensure that passenger rights are protected. Aviation supervision measures were also tightened to ensure the safety of any remaining TransAsia flights.
The MOTC asked the Taoyuan International Airport Corp. and other airports to maintain orderly operations and extend full assistance to travelers. The Taiwan Railways Administration was instructed to transport stranded passengers on domestic routes operated exclusively by TransAsia, such as the Taipei-Hualien and Taichung-Hualien services. These airports and train stations have all assigned special staff to offer assistance.
To safeguard travelers’ rights, the MOTC demanded that TransAsia contact passengers with reservations and rebook their flights on other carriers. The airline must assign specialists to its customer hotline (02-4128133) to provide answers and assistance. If a passenger requests a refund, the full fare amount is to be returned.
The MOTC also ordered TransAsia to contact cooperating travel agencies and offer assistance with itinerary rescheduling and ticket refunds. The CAA is working with other airlines to schedule additional flights as needed or employ larger aircraft to keep travelers moving. The Tourism Bureau will guide and help travel agencies work through these issues.
Starting Wednesday, the CAA will monitor TransAsia’s customer service and follow-up efforts. The carrier has promised to set up a dedicated consumer trust account to provide full refunds on tickets already sold. Stressing that consumer rights will be protected, the CAA said it will fulfill its responsibility to make sure the airline handles these matters properly.
According to MOL personnel statistics for September, TransAsia employed 1,735 people, including 178 who chose to work under the old labor pension scheme, 332 who have service years under both the old and new labor pension schemes, and 1,223 who have worked under only the new scheme. The airline’s old labor pension payout fund still contains NT$310.88 million (US$9.85 million), which is sufficient to pay for employee pensions under current retirement system estimates. TransAsia also indicated that it has the financial resources to cover all required employee severance payments.
TransAsia was urged to submit its mass layoff plan soon so that labor and management can begin negotiating the details themselves, the MOL said. If the talks fail, the Taipei City Department of Labor will be asked to intervene. The MOL also called on TransAsia to meet its social responsibilities and protect the rights of its employees.