By Will Lee
EVA Air Suspends Chicago Services
Taiwan-based carrier EVA Air has suspended its Taipei to Chicago services until Sep. 18 after three pilots were diagnosed with Covid-19. But the airline hasn’t ruled out whether the suspension will be extended.
According to local media, the three pilots were fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the airline demands 1,500 pilot must take a PCR test.
In the meantime, one of the three pilot has been fired for failing to comply with the airline’s Covid-19 protocol. After a flight from Chicago on Aug. 26, the pilot had not committed to the company’s self-monitoring policies and dined with friends at a restaurant. The pilot was also accused of providing the fake information about his health on Aug. 30 before leaving Taipei Taoyuan International Airport for Brisbane, Australia.
The pilot could be fined between $3,620 and $36,200 for breaking the Covid-19 rules, according to Wen-Tsan Cheng, the mayor of Taoyuan. The carrier is also possibly facing the maximum fine of $108,000 for failing its staff to comply with the rules. Taiwan’s government sounded the alarm, worrying the pilot cluster could affect its Taiwanese people. EVA Air emphasized that it will comply with the government’s Covid rules and will not allow its staff to violate Covid-19 restrictions.
Earlier this year, China Airlines, the main rival of EVA Air, experienced a similar problems. A pilot tested positive for Covid-19 and caused dozens of Covid-19 cases in Taiwan. The airline has forced to implement the so-called “Clearing Plan 2.0”, and some of the airline’s routes needed to be suspended. China Airlines took weeks to return to normal services.
This is not EVA Air’s time to sack a pilot over Covid-19 protocols. Last year, the airline fired a New Zealand pilot for failing to meet Covid-19 protocols; the pilot was believed to transmit the virus to a woman which became the first case in nearly nine months in Taiwan. EVA Air apologized for that pilot’s behavior.
Travel demand remains weak, and EVA Air provided only one weekly flight to Chicago before the suspension. However, the cargo demand to Chicago during the pandemic is huge, and EVA Air provided more than 20 cargo flights a week before the suspension.
In response to EVA Air’s decision, China Airlines has announced its cargo services will increase by 25 to 35%. The new price is five times higher than before the pandemic, Taiwan’s media revealed.
In addition, China had tightened up its Covid-19 restrictions, and Shanghai limited direct flights from the U.S. recently, so some goods are being forced to take a transit in Taiwan as a result. Taiwan is overwhelmed by China’s new Covid-19 policies.