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May 26, 2017

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Far Eastern Air closing in on TransAsia takeover

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT, 遠東航空) has announced plans to take over financially striken carrier TransAsia Airways (復興航空),.

"We are now speaking with some banks and are 80 percent certain we will be able to take over TransAsia," FAT's Chairman Fenno Chang (張綱維) said in an exclusive interview with The China Post on Monday.

The former real estate tycoon, who entered the air transport sector with his takeover of financially struggling FAT in 2011 announced ambitious plans to restructure TransAsia within three months and to make the firm profitable "within half a year."

CC Tseng (曾金池), Far Eastern Air's chief operations officer, said the name of the acquired airline would be changed to Far Eastern United Air (遠東聯合).

Chang said he was interested in recruiting former TransAsia employees, adding that pilots could join the new Far Eastern United Air, provided they take part in the airline's upcoming training program.

Offering to Give Jobs Back

"I hope to hire back TransAsia's former staff. ... We are expecting to take on 1,000 people."

Citing heavy losses, TransAsia abruptly announced its closure last month.

The closure saw the airline's 1,800 employees lose their jobs.

The closed-carrier's corporate union announced Monday they would stage a sleep-out protest outside TransAsia Chairman Vincent Lin's (林明昇) house in Taipei's Neihu district.

Union bosses want Lin to attend a second round of labor-management negotiations slated for Dec. 22 to address their demands in person, including outlining severance package agreements in detail.

TransAsia was set up in 1951, and was the third largest operator in Taiwan after China Airlines (CAL, 華航) and EVA Air (長榮) before its closure.

Its business, however, was badly damaged by fatal crashes in 2014 and 2015.

Signs of troubles to come were already present when TransAsia shut down its low-cost subsidiary V Air (威航) in October.

Following TransAsia's announcement last month, Chang held a press conference on Nov. 26 urging CAL and EVA Air to take on the restructuring of TransAsia, while not ruling out a takeover by FAT.

Eyes on Asia Travel Market

Chang is also chairman of the Huafu Group (樺福集團), a local conglomerate with interests in the travel, hospitality, transport and lifestyle sectors. Chang said he hoped TransAsia could complement Huafu's existing operations.

"Pairing our growing fleet — bringing in TransAsia's aircraft will push the number up to around 20 planes — with our hotel and travel services, we would be able to achieve synergy and position ourselves as a total solution provider to customers. ... In the future, we would like to become a leading player in Asia's travel industry."

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