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China Airlines strike leaves 20,000 without flights

Taipei (afp) – A strike by staff from Taiwan’s largest carrier China Airlines left 20,000 passengers without flights Friday in the first industrial action by cabin crew in the island’s aviation history.

The airline was forced to cancel all flights out of the two main airports in the capital Taipei, with the only exception a chartered service for President Tsai Ing-wen who left for a state visit to Panama and Paraguay Friday morning.

Crowds of passengers queued up at CAL counters in Taipei’s Songshan and Taoyuan airports Friday morning as the airline tried to get them onto different flights.

Hundreds of flight attendants staged a sit-in outside the firm’s headquarters in Taipei overnight, protesting a new requirement that they report for work in Taoyuan – on the outskirts of Taipei – rather than downtown Songshan.

They say the measure was brought in “unilaterally”.

“(It) pressures us to work even more overtime and will seriously affect flight safety,” the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union said in a statement on its Facebook page.