Taiwan’s TransAsia suspends flights amid share trading probe

Taipei / AFP

Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways said it would suspend flights from Tuesday as officials announced a probe into suspected insider trading at the loss-making airline, which is rumoured to be seeking buyers after two deadly crashes.
The airline, in a statement on its website late Monday, said it had requested a halt in trading of its shares before an “impromptu board meeting” Tuesday.
It said flights would be suspended from Tuesday and an explanation given to the public after the meeting.
“We offer our deepest apologies to travellers affected tomorrow,” the airline said, without elaborating.
The government said an investigation had begun into suspected insider trading in the company’s shares after a huge rise in trading volume on Monday.
“The Financial Supervisory Commission and the Justice Ministry have started to investigate apparent insider trading by TransAsia Airways according to the Taiwan Stock Exchange,” the cabinet said in a statement.
TransAsia incurred losses of Tw$1.1 billion ($34.38 million) last year following a plane crash on the offshore Penghu islands in 2014 that left 48 people dead and another in Taipei that killed 43 people seven months later.
The company losses widened to Tw$2.2 billion in the first three quarters of this year and in September TransAsia announced its budget airline V Air was folding.
Taiwan’s Stock Exchange confirmed the airline has applied to halt trading on Tuesday “pending release of major news”.
TransAsia has seen several accidents in recent years that have raised concern about its safety standards. It has been asked to review safety procedures.
A catalogue of pilot errors caused flight GE235 to clip a bridge and plunge into a river shortly after take-off from Taipei in February 2015, according to aviation authorities.
Two pilots were also blamed for the crash of GE222 carrying 54 passengers and four crew when it slammed into trees and houses near Magong city airport in the Taiwan Strait’s scenic Penghu islands, leaving just 10 survivors. The pilots were flying below the minimum altitude required in poor visibility caused by a typhoon in a procedural mistake widespread among TransAsia’s pilots at the time,the Aviation Safety Council said in its investigation report.
TransAsia said it had introduced six training programmes following the two fatal incidents.

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