A TransAsia Airways passenger plane is seen at Songshan Airport. Photo:  REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A TransAsia Airways passenger plane is seen at Songshan Airport. Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

More than 200 TransAsia Airways employees gathered in front of Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor on Thursday morning to protest against the airline’s sudden shutdown, the Liberty Times newspaper has reported.

Taiwan’s oldest surviving airline was dissolved, without notice, following a board meeting on Tuesday. All of its shares and flights were suspended and more than 1,700 employees are to be laid off. The company had been losing money since 91 people died in two crashes, in 2014 and 2015.

Employees are questioning the shutdown, with the airline proposing several appeals relating to compensation, job reallocations and what to do with trust fund cash. They also demanded that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to hold labor-management negotiations. The airline has yet to respond.

MOJ Vice Minister Chen Ming-tang has said the government supports a freeze on TransAsia’s US$37.57 million trust fund. Half of the fund will be used for compensation to the airline’s employees, he said, with the other half going towards refunds for customers and travel agencies.

TransAsia was one of the main carriers serving Taiwan’s domestic market and its dissolution is expected to have a serious impact on travel within the country, especially to and from the offshore county Penghu: 40% of Penghu flights were operated by the company.

According to the Central News Agency, Taiwan’s Yuan – its executive – reiterated on Thursday that China Airlines, a Taipei-based international carrier, will take over all domestic and international routes temporarily.

Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said on Wednesday that the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) had launched an investigation into possible insider trading in the company’s shares.

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