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Quitting pilots get the bill

THIRTEEN pilots will have to pay a total of 25.9 million yuan (US$3.79 million) to China Eastern Airlines to be released from contracts of employment.

THE Intermediate People's Court in Lanzhou, capital of western China's Gansu Province, said six co-pilots will have to pay 2.1 million yuan each to the airline and seven pilots will have to pay 1.9 million yuan each, the Beijing Times reported today.

The 13 pilots sought to quit the company in 2007. In October they asked for arbitration by the Lanzhou Human Resources Authority after the airline refused their requests.

The arbitration authority ordered each of the pilots to pay more than 4 million yuan to the airline. The pilots then took their case to the Chengguan District People's Court of Lanzhou in 2008.

That court ordered them to pay more than 4.2 million yuan each to the airline. The pilots appealed to the Intermediate People's Court in October last year.

The pilots wanted to leave the airline to get higher pay and better conditions elsewhere. The famous "no arrivals" protest in Yunnan last year helped publicize their case.

On March 31 and April 1 last year, 18 China Eastern flights returned to Kunming, capital of southwestern Yunnan Province, soon after taking off, upsetting travel plans for more than 1,000 passengers.

Some of the "no arrival" flights were the result of pilots protesting over pay and conditions, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

In a separate case, the Intermediate People's Court in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei Province, told another 10 pilots they would have to pay China Eastern Airlines a total of 8 million yuan to break their contracts of employment and leave the company. A hearing last September decided the pilots would have to pay between 500,000 and 900,000 yuan.


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