'No plans' to punish pilots over turnabout

(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-05 09:14

The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) has no plans to punish pilots of China Eastern for turning back midway on flights to airports they had set off from, Caijing magazine reported on Friday.

Earlier media reports claimed the CAAC said those responsible for the pilots' behavior could face a lifelong ban on flying.

Seventeen China Eastern flights that left from Kunming airport in Yunnan province returned to the city after takeoff on Monday and Tuesday, leaving at least 1,500 passengers stranded there.

The pilots reportedly turned back because of a dispute with their employer over treatment and pay, while the carrier said weather conditions were behind the move, Caijing and local media said.

It was a third incident in a month related to disputes between pilots and their employers.

The pilots in the latest incident should not be punished, as China Eastern said weather conditions were the reason behind the acts, Caijing quoted a CAAC official as saying.

Even if the pilots had deliberately turned back to show their discontent over their treatment and pay, as reported by media, the incident remains an internal issue for the carrier and should be resolved by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the official was reported as saying.

The CAAC asked China Eastern on Thursday to settle the dispute as soon as possible to guarantee flight safety, the Beijing Times reported.

China Eastern could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday.

"The CAAC will follow this matter closely to make sure that flights operate smoothly and that consumers are not on the losing end", Caijing quoted an administration official as saying.

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