By Kao Shih-ching and Ann Maxon / Staff reporters
EVA Airways yesterday announced that it would fire a flight attendant who said in a Line group chat that she would add “extras” to a specific pilot’s food, as her remark had caused panic over flight safety.
The attendant, surnamed Kuo （郭）, was fired after EVA’s disciplinary committee decided to give her two demerits and dismiss her, the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union said.
Screenshots of Kuo’s remarks on the messaging app began circulating on Sunday night on the Internet, including one with a photograph of a pilot and the text: “This man is going to get extras in his entree.”
“Kuo crossed a red line when she said that she would put extras in the pilot’s meal, which would likely harm the pilot’s safety and thus endanger flight safety,” EVA deputy spokesman Eric Lin （林司忠） told the Taipei Times by telephone.
Her comment that she would give those who quit the strike and returned to work before the strike ended on Tuesday last week a terrible time were not tolerable, but were not the main reason that EVA decided to dismiss her, Lin said.
Kuo made that remark in a private conversation and explained at a meeting on Wednesday that she had been joking, but her message indicated that she had intended to harm the pilot, Lin said.
Kuo worked at EVA for more than seven years and had been promoted to deputy purser, so she should have known that EVA would not tolerate employees making jokes about flight safety, Lin said.
She could appeal the dismissal within 14 days with the department in which she had worked, EVA said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the union called the sacking an overinterpretation of remarks made privately, which could infringe upon employees’ freedom of speech and privacy.
The move also raises concerns about EVA trying to retaliate against union members for the strike, the union said in a statement.
The union had initially said that the screenshots could have been fabricated, but after EVA reported them to the police, the union issued a statement from Kuo on Tuesday saying that they were authentic and apologizing to the public.
“Kuo’s remarks were indeed inappropriate, but the person who really caused fear among the public over flight safety was whoever took the screenshots of the conversation and distributed them online,” union board member Genie Tuan （段嘉蕙） said.
Kuo had meant her remark as a joke, believing the online chat group was a safe place to speak her mind, Tuan said.
“She had no intention of bullying anyone or compromising flight safety,” Tuan added.
The chat group was set up for a number of flight attendants who joined EVA in 2011 and has 34 people in it, although many no longer work at the airline, and it is unclear who leaked the messages, Tuan said.
The union would discuss its next step with Kuo and lawyers, union deputy secretary Chou Sheng-kai （周聖凱） said.
If the issue cannot be resolved internally, the union would consider other channels, such as the local labor department, the Ministry of Labor or the judicial system, he said.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung （林佳龍） said that his ministry respects the company’s handling of the issue.
The company should follow due process when dismissing employees, and employees should be given an opportunity to defend themselves, he said.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan
Genie Tuan, a member of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union board of directors, left, and and union deputy secretary Chou Sheng-kai hold a news conference yesterday in Taoyuan. Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times