Tai­wan air­line closes af­ter fa­tal crashes

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

TAI­WAN’S trou­bled Tran­sAsia Air­ways said yes­ter­day the com­pany would be dis­solved in the wake of two deadly plane crashes, mas­sive fi­nan­cial losses and an in­sider trad­ing probe.

Board mem­bers reached the de­ci­sion to close the strug­gling air­line dur­ing a hastily called meet­ing, with all flights im­me­di­ately axed.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Liu Tung-ming bowed in con­tri­tion as he an­nounced the “painful” de­ci­sion.

“I’m sorry that our re­cent ef­forts could not meet pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions,” Mr Liu said.

“The board meet­ing con­vened to­day has ap­proved the de­ci­sion to dis­solve the com­pany and sus­pend all flights from to­day.”

The dra­matic crash of flight GE235 in Fe­bru­ary 2015 grabbed global head­lines as car dash­cam footage showed the jet clip­ping a road bridge and ca­reer­ing into a river shortly af­ter take-off from Taipei, killing 43 peo­ple.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion blamed a cat­a­logue of pi­lot er­rors, with one found to have mis­tak­enly switched off the only func­tion­ing en­gine af­ter the other had failed.

It came just seven months af­ter an­other jet slammed into trees and houses near Magong city on Penghu is­land, leav­ing 48 dead.

The pi­lots were fly­ing below the min­i­mum al­ti­tude re­quired in poor vis­i­bil­ity caused by a ty­phoon in a pro­ce­dural mis­take wide­spread among Tran­sAsia’s pi­lots at the time, the Avi­a­tion Safety Coun­cil said in its in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port.

Tran­sAsia – Tai­wan’s first pri­vate air­line, set up in 1951 – said it had in­tro­duced six train­ing pro­grams fol­low­ing the two fa­tal in­ci­dents.

But de­spite moves to com­bat safety fears, it in­curred losses of T$1.1 bil­lion (US$34.38 mil­lion) last year. Those losses widened to T$2.2 bil­lion in the first three quar­ters of this year, and in Oc­to­ber its bud­get air­line V Air folded.

Its woes were ex­ac­er­bated by a slump in Chi­nese tourists as re­la­tions de­te­ri­o­rated with Bei­jing un­der Tai­wan’s new pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen, who took of­fice in May.

Tran­sAsia is also now mired in a probe over shares trad­ing.

Chair Vin­cent Lin and two ex­ec­u­tives were ques­tioned by prose­cu­tors af­ter the Tai­wan Stock Ex­change warned of “ap­par­ent” in­sider trad­ing on Novem­ber 21, as ru­mours be­gan to swirl that the firm was go­ing un­der.

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