Taiwan's China Airlines says pilot quarantines to impact freight operations

Taiwan's China Airlines says pilot quarantines to impact freight operations

FILE PHOTO: China Airlines Cargo plane taxis at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
A China Airlines Cargo plane taxis at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taoyuan, Taiwan, Jan 7, 2021. (File photo: REUTERS/Ann Wang)

TAIPEI: Taiwan's largest carrier, China Airlines, said on Tuesday (May 11) that the quarantining of its pilots to stem a COVID-19 outbreak is expected to affect more than 10 per cent of its freighter capacity, potentially affecting the island's exports.

Taiwan has kept the pandemic under control thanks to early prevention, with only sporadic domestic cases, but since last month it has been dealing with an outbreak linked to China Airlines pilots and an airport hotel where many of them stayed. There have been 35 confirmed infections so far in the outbreak.

READ: Taiwan evacuates hotel to sterilise it after rare COVID-19 outbreak

The government announced on Monday it would quarantine for 14 days all the airlines' pilots to stem the spread of the infection.

In a statement, China Airlines said it was cooperating with the government's instructions and would gradually quarantine its crew in groups, adding that it would try as hard as possible to maintain services and was not grounding the whole fleet.

"At present the initial estimate is that around more than 10 per cent of freighter capacity will be affected, and the schedule is still being adjusted," it added.

Taiwan has a trade-dependent economy and is a major producer of semiconductors, whose supplies are already tight, affecting a range of industries from cars to consumer electronics.

COMMENTARY: Taiwan's national security depends on a highly sought-after product

Yuanta Investment Consulting analyst Woods Chen said that chip exports could be affected.

"Air freight is mainly for the transportation of high value-added products such as technology products, and the biggest impact would be on Taiwan's chip shipments," he said.

China Airlines' stock closed 3.1 per cent lower on Tuesday, largely in line with the broader market, which ended 3.8 per cent weaker on investor concerns over the surge in COVID-19 cases in Taiwan.

Source: Reuters/dv

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