China Airlines Cargp
China Airlines Cargp

Two Taiwanese Pilots Struck Down by Coronavirus

Conditions for struggling major Taiwanese carriers have become more uncertain this week, as it has been confirmed that two Taiwanese airline crews have contracted COVID-19 from an unknown source.

a plane taking off from a runway
China Airlines is under investigation by Taiwanese authorities. Picture: Business Traveller

Taiwan’s Deputy Transport Minister, Wang Kwo-tsai, confirmed that two pilots flying China Airlines’ Boeing 747 freighter aircraft had been infected by the disease. It remains unclear whether they were flying the same aircraft or separately.

Many Taiwanese experts have also expressed grave concerns over the risks that airline crews pose to Taiwan’s strong measures in tackling the virus. In essence they create a loophole in the strict new travel and quarantine measures, put in place by the Taiwanese Government last week.

a couple of women wearing surgical gowns and face masks
Taiwanese flight crews rolled out standardized protective gear this week.
Picture: China Airlines

During a question time at the Taiwanese Legislative Assembly, Wang confirmed the reports and noted that the recent travel histories of the pilots are currently under urgent investigation by the Taiwanese Civil Aeronautics Administration. He emphasised that China Airlines, the flag carrier of Taiwan, is attempting to establish the potential source of the infections and will present tracking analysis to the authorities as soon as possible.

Wang also noted that standard operation protocols are in place for all Taiwanese pilots, they are prohibited from leaving their hotels when overseas. He said the government will adjust its travel policies based on the results of the investigation.

a plane flying over a runway
China Airlines Boeing 747 pilots have contracted coronavirus.

When questioned by another Taiwanese legislator about reports that a flight attendant from Taiwan’s second major carrier, EVA Air, may also have contracted the COVID-19, Wang commented that he was not aware of such a situation; he stated that he would contact the Central Epidemic Command Centre for clarification on the matter. EVA Air has declined to comment on the matter to Taiwanese media outlets.