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EVA Air Pilots Could Walk Off the Job

The union representing some EVA Air pilots is looking for pay raises and better career opportunities.

An EVA Air 777-300ER in Los Angeles (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Wiliam Derrickson)

EVA Air’s passengers could potentially face a disruption amid the Lunar New Year holidays as Taiwan’s Taoyuan Union of Pilots (TUP) votes to strike within two weeks.

According to TUP, the pilots were left behind and their salaries have only increased by 1.5% to 2% in 2022, the first pay rise since 2011. Also, the per diem in foreign countries rose by 30 cents last year, the first time in 30 years. After the pandemic, EVA Air was in the black in 2022, recording a profit of 7.1 Taiwanese billion dollars. In the first three quarters of 2023, the airline reported a profit of 16.4 Taiwanese billion dollars.

The union demands a pay rise and for the company to solve the issues about foreign pilots, mentioning that the Consumer Price Index has increased by 13% in Taiwan since 2011. In response to the salaries issue, over 100 Taiwanese pilots have resigned this year.

TUP and the pilots in Taiwan have been facing an ongoing challenge: foreign-based pilots.

EVA Air has been hiring foreign pilots through Asia Pacific Aviation Services (APAS). The union said the human resources agency is operating without a permit in Taiwan and EVA Air could violate the Employment Service Act. The union said China Airlines, the main rival of EVA Air, has also employed foreign pilots through APAS.

The Taiwanese carriers are not allowed to employ foreign pilots who don’t have a certificate for the relevant aircraft. However, the applicants could be hired and trained if no local applicants are qualified. Earlier, EVA Air employed 150 – 200 foreign pilots in the first phase, but only 1/3 were formally employed. The union criticized the airline for being imprudent in its employment process.

Taiwanese Pilots Look For Equal Opportunities

The union believed that unqualified foreign pilots could pose a risk to passengers. In May, a foreign pilot operating a cargo flight from New York to Anchorage was tested with a 0.23 blood alcohol level. However, the pilot was given a few hours and tested seven times until the alcohol level was recorded at zero. The flight was delayed for three hours as a result. EVA Air was accused of hiding the chaos from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The pilot quit after two months of the incident.

Moreover, the union believed a Taiwanese pilot could face a different consequence after making a huge mistake.

In the meantime, Japan’s All Nippon Airways and Singapore Airlines have a high number of local pilots, but Taiwan’s carriers are a different breed. The government was urged to review the out-of-date policies. The airlines currently could employ 2.5 foreign pilots after training one Taiwanese pilot. EVA Air revealed that 20.7% of pilots are foreigners.

EVA Air is not the only carrier that has employed a number of foreign pilots. TUP stated that China Airlines has hired 31 foreign pilots and only 11 Taiwanese pilots in 2022.

Pete Ainsley


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