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Taiwan's TransAsia Airways closes

Updated: 11 28 , 2016 14:46
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TAIPEI, Nov. 22 -- Taiwan's TransAsia Airways announced Tuesday that it will close as a result of financial and flight safety woes.

The company made the decision at an emergency board meeting Tuesday. Its operation and shares have been suspended.

The company decided to bow out of the aviation industry because of its worsening financial situation, TransAsia Airways chairman Vincent Lin said at a press conference.

The Taipei-based airline said it was not able to repay convertible bonds due Nov. 29. It had lost about 2.7 billion new Taiwan dollars (84.81 million U.S. dollars) in the first ten months of the year.

Lin called the decision to dissolve the company "painful." It has tried to look for professional institutions and partners to help it but none were found.

The island's third-largest carrier could not restore public confidence in the wake of two fatal accidents in the past two years.

On Feb. 4, 2015, a TransAsia Airways ATR-72 airplane crashed into Keelung River in Taipei shortly after takeoff, killing 43 of the 58 people onboard.

On July 23, 2014, TransAsia Flight GE222, an ATR 72-500 model, crashed near Magong Airport in Penghu.

The island's aviation regulator said earlier this year that it had neglected flight safety and fostered a culture of sloppy practice among its ATR 72 pilots.

Founded in 1951, the island's first private airline, TransAsia Airways first focused on routes across the island. It now operates many international and cross-Strait flights.

The company has also been pummeled by dwindling mainland tourists travel to the island since the island's leader Tsai Ing-wen took office in May.

Taiwan tourist administration had released earlier estimates that mainland tourists had decreased by 28.4 percent in the third quarter from a year ago. Cross-Strait flights account for about 40 percent of TransAsia's business.

Taiwan's aviation regulator said Monday that TransAsia Airways will also be punished for its abrupt flight suspension on Tuesday, and for not reporting it to the regulator and the general public in advance.

According to Taiwanese laws, the carrier could be fined up to three million new Taiwan dollars for the abrupt announcement and suspension.

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