Concern is growing about the long-term effects of public health restrictions on aircraft crew. Pilots and cabin crew say they can’t get necessary medical treatments because of anxiety about COVID risks. Meanwhile, high-profile COVID cases have exacerbated widespread suspicion toward the flight industry. The plight of Taiwanese air crew is now attracting more and more international attention.

A headline from British newspaper The Daily Telegraph: “‘People think pilots are murderers because we brought back the virus’: Taiwan’s COVID scapegoats.”

Member of public

It’s a little bit of an overgeneralization. I think it was just a single case. It doesn’t necessarily represent how all pilots behave.

Member of public

You can’t ignore people who are obeying the rules just because of one or two people. I think they should follow the same rules as travelers.

A small number of pilots have broken rules and brought suspicion on their profession. Meanwhile, Taiwanese aircraft crews have been caught in an endless cycle of work and self-isolation for over a year. When they need medical care, they often suffer discrimination, leading unions to warn that crews’ frayed mental and physical health could pose a flight risk.

Li Hsin-yen

Taoyuan Pilots’ Union

There was a crew member who fell from a staircase on a cargo aircraft. He was sent to a hospital here. They wouldn’t even give him an X-ray. They just gave him some painkillers. If it was just for a month or two maybe it wouldn’t be a big issue, but it’s been over 18 months now, since February 2020. We’re not asking for a lot. We just want somewhere to accept our aircraft crews for appropriate medical treatment.

The predicament of Taiwan’s air crews has attracted international attention. The International Federation of Air Line Pilots'' Associations, which represents pilots from over 100 countries and territories, will discuss the quarantine measures imposed on Taiwanese crews and whether social pressures could cause a flight risk.

Li Hsin-yen

Taoyuan Pilots’ Union

Other member states can see our issue is very difficult. They’re willing to publicize it in a meeting. They can offer guidance and advice to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Of course, they can offer appropriate recommendations to the Civil Aeronautics Administration and other government agencies too.

Max

Japanese pilots’ union

The rule is very important. However, if the pilot union is requesting for a 14-day quarantine, the society and the government should accept.

Incidents of infection, including the Novotel Hotel cluster, and the recent EVA Air delta case, have worried many. At the same time, aircraft crew have to live somehow: no easy equation to balance.