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September 22, 2017

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Ex-CAA chief'willing to take over' TransAsia

Chang Kuo-cheng (張國政), former director general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA,民航局), said Tuesday he was "willing to take over" recently-dissolved TransAsia Airways (復興航空), urging the government to delay a revocation of the airline's flying rights set for today.

"Entrusted by people from the IT industry, my team is willing to take over TransAsia Airways. Hopefully, our intervention can help resolve some of the government's problems, the airline's difficulties and its employees' job crisis," Chang said Tuesday during a press conference in Taipei.

"Furthermore, we hope the CAA can temporarily suspend and delay its plan to retract the airline's international and domestic aviation rights."

Should TransAsia Airways' flying rights be revoked now, Chang said, his team would not be interested in taking over the company.

Chang refused to disclose the name of the buyer behind his team, saying, "If I tell you now, it's going to fall apart."

Speculation has emerged that Terry Gou (郭台銘), chairman of Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海), is behind the bid. The company said in a statement it would not respond to rumors.

TransAsia Airways spokesman Liu Chung-chi (劉忠繼) confirmed late Monday that Chang had met with the airline's chairman Vincent Lin (林明昇) after the morning press conference, but provided no further information about the meetings.

Earlier in the day, Liu told the press that the airline was not aware of Chang's intentions and that he had only learned about it via television.

He also said that the company cannot respond until Chang presents a formal, comprehensive takeover plan.

'Host of problems'

Deputy Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said it was "premature and careless" for Chang to announce the possible takeover before discussing it with TransAsia Airways.

He said the retraction of the airline's aviation rights would proceed as planned, "otherwise a whole host of other problems will arise, including those having to do with the rights of passengers and employees."

"He (Chang) must speak with the airline's management first (regarding the takeover), and it should be the airline that makes the proposal to the CAA," Wang said.

Last week, the Cabinet announced temporary response measures to TransAsia's unexpected announcement to cease operations, with China Airlines set to cover parts of TransAsia's original routes until Feb. 15 of next year.

The CAA issued an ultimatum on Monday, saying the airline had until Tuesday evening to come up with plans to resume operations before the agency revokes its flying rights.

Stock Price Surge

The stock market responded to Chang's announcement of a possible takeover immediate on Tuesday.

It ended the fifth consecutive day of decline, surging 8 percent from the limit-down price at NT$3.08, and closed at NT$3.7 on Monday afternoon.

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