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Business

TransAsia Airways abruptly grounds fleet

Taiwanese airline TransAsia Airways has announced it is suspending operations and cancelling bookings following financial losses and two fatal crashes.  The carrier was founded in 1951 as Taiwan's first private airline.

TransAsia Airways suspended flights from Tuesday as officials announced a probe into suspected insider trading at the loss-making airline. In a statement on its website late Monday, the air carrier said it had requested a halt in trading of its shares before an "impromptu board meeting" Tuesday. "We offer our deepest apologies to travelers affected tomorrow," the airline said Monday, without elaborating further.

The move by Taiwan's third-largest carrier came as a shock for Taiwan's tourism industries as well as the government, as passengers struggle to make other arrangements. TransAsia incurred losses of 32.36 billion euros ($34.38 million) last year following a plane crash on the offshore Penghu islands in 2014 that left 48 people dead, and another in Taipei that killed 43 people seven months later.  The company losses widened to more than 2 billion euros in the first three quarters of this year, and in September TransAsia announced its budget airline V Air was folding.

Taiwan's Stock Exchange confirmed the airline has applied to halt trading on Tuesday "pending release of major news." TransAsia was established in 1951 as Taiwan's first privately owned airline. Reports that the air carrier is seeking a buyer have been circulating but remain unconfirmed.

jar/tj (AP, AFP)

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