July 3, 2008

China Eastern Airlines Clips Wings of Pilots for Flight Disruptions

China Eastern Airlines clips wings of pilots for flight disruptions

SHANGHAI, July 2 (Xinhua) -- China Eastern Airlines (CEA) on Wednesday announced punishment for 13 pilots who were involved in "flight returns" in late March and early April.

There were several incidents in which the pilots, who worked for CEA's subsidiary in the southwestern province of Yunnan, "reversed course" by landing at their destinations and taking off without letting passengers disembark. More than 1,000 passengers were affected.

These "return flights" were suspected of being protests over pay and working conditions.

The penalties ranged from losing their pilot certificates to demotions, suspensions, and in one case, expulsion from the Communist Party of China, a CEA statement said.

In addition, CEA said, two top branch company officials were sacked for mismanagement and six others were penalized, four by being removed from their posts.

CEA, China's third-largest carrier, said it will learn from the incident. It ordered its pilots to strengthen their legal education and professional ethics.

The carrier was fined 1.5 million yuan (about 217,390 U.S. dollars) by its regulator, the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

In May, CEA was stripped of operating routes from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, to Xishuangbanna and Dali, two popular tourist destinations.

Other flights operated by the company were reduced.

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