Taiwan’s third largest carrier TransAsia Airways has stopped flying and the company is being wound down. The move, which has taken aviation authorities and even some of its own employees by surprise, comes after the struggling airline announced its board had approved the move. In a statement the airline apologised to the 5,000 passengers who have purchased tickets and promised full refunds.
Rumours had started to circulate online on November 21 that the airline was planning to stop flying the next day. Although the airline initially denied the move, the Taiwanese Civil Aviation Authority was forced to step in later that day after TransAsia Airways executives advised them of the intention to stop flying.
Fang Chih-wen, CAA Deputy Director General, told reporters the airline had given no reasons for the move or referred to its recent financial difficulties. He added TransAsia would face “severe” financial penalties for its actions.
The following day TransAsia’s CEO Daniel Liu told a news conference: “This is a very painful choice for the company. Our communications with investors have not been successful and despite considering six or seven different options including restructuring and raising more capital, these have not come to fruition as we had hoped.”
TransAsia has struggled financially, reporting losses in each of the previous six quarters up to the end of September, after a downturn in its business followed two fatal ATR 72 crashes in 2014 and 2015.