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.
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.
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.