Air China

China Eastern pledges internal review after flight cancellations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am

China Eastern Airlines Corp said yesterday it would quickly address management issues raised by the government's cancellation of a number of its routes, an action that will cut 400 million yuan (HK$445.65 million) off its sales this year.

'We will seriously learn a lesson from the incident and actively react to the requirements of the regulator,' the airline said in an announcement filed with Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday.

'An application for resuming the flights will be tendered as soon as possible.'

Civil Aviation Administration of China director general Wang Ronghua said yesterday that the airline's first priority was to improve its management standards.

Late last month, thousands of passengers were stranded after 18 China Eastern pilots turned back in midflight amid a dispute with the state-owned airline's management over pay raises and overtime flying. The pilots were permanently banned after the incident.

On April 16, the CAAC ordered that flights between Kunming and Dali as well as Kunming and Xishuangbanna be taken away from China Eastern effective May 4. Six routes between Kunming and other cities in Yunnan such as Lijiang and Zhongdian will be cut by two to six flights per day.

The CAAC did not say how long the suspension would last.

The company said it would try to reshuffle the extra capacity in Yunnan to other routes and aimed to increase airplane usage in response to the punishment.

The carrier forecast that the direct impact of the measures would be a 400 million yuan cut in sales over the next eight months, an amount equal to 1.52 per cent of its sales last year.

Pilots on the mainland cannot move freely between airlines. Regulators also require a mutual agreement between pilots and their employers in case of resignations.

Chinese airlines often demand more than 10 million yuan as a break-up fee from the pilots, or 30 times their annual income, in a bid to stop them from resigning.