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China Airlines Pilot Quarantines Jeopardize Operations

A China Airlines A350-900XWB in a special joint livery with Airbus (Photo: Airbus)

Taiwan’s China Airlines’ first pilot has been diagnosed with the Covid-19 in Australia. The affected pilot cluster had a combined of 35 patients at the moment, including 13 pilots and one flight attendant.

Taiwan achieved notable success in Covid-19 since the pandemic had begun, but the pilot cluster has given the government a real headache. Taiwan‘s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is going to tighten China Airlines’ coronavirus restrictions, per Focus Taiwan, and is requesting all pilots undergo a 14-day quarantine before leaving Taiwan, the so-called “Clear Virus 2.0.” The flight attendants serving long-haul flights who have not completed a 14 days quarantine also need self-isolate for 14 days.

According to CECC, the pilots and cabin crew will divide into a “safe group” and a “risk group.” The members of the safe group must complete a 14-day quarantine and provide a negative test for Covid-19 after returning to Taiwan. The risk group members do not need complete the 14-day quarantine but must have a negative test for Covid-19.

China Airlines can deploy the risk group members to operate a flight in the moment, but two group members are not allowed to work on the same flight and cannot mix. In addition, the members of the risk group are prohibited to see their families or go to public places.

“We’re worry there’s a virus transmission chain within China Airlines that has not yet been detected,” Shih-Chung Chen, Taiwan’s Health Minister said.

The latest policy could be a new threat to the airline and also put the Taiwan-Palau travel bubble at risk. However, China Airlines insists that the latest precautionary measure will not stop operating its services, and it plans to “maintain as many flights as possible.”

It is believed the supply chain is expected to be interrupted in Taiwan if the airline suspends its service completely. China Airlines handles a quarter of passenger and cargo capacity.

The airline also insisted that it will comply with CECC’s quarantine policies and ensure that cargo services will be prioritized. Earlier, though, China Airlines canceled some passenger and cargo services, including Dallas, Atlanta, New York and Frankfort because of the shortage of pilot.

Earlier, China Airlines has been fined $35,880 by Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) for failing to comply with coronavirus protocol. The government has found some crew members have stayed in non-designated quarantine hotels after returning to Taiwan. Meanwhile, a pilot and a flight attendant have been fined $10,000 for going to a bar while they were self-health monitoring.

In the meantime, Taiwan’s StarLux Airlines has sounded the alarm and forbid its staff from dining with other airlines’ staff, StarLux said in an internal mail.

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