Northwest Airlines plans to cut its Taipei-Tokyo route today due to reduced passenger volume and open Tokyo-Guangzhou flights on the same day, the airline's Taiwan representative said yesterday.
"Northwest will cut its daily Taipei-Tokyo flights starting Monday, but it will maintain its daily Taipei-Osaka flights. But Taiwan-Japan traffic will increase because we will use a 403-seat Boeing 747-400 to replace the 152-seat Boeing-757 on the Taipei-Osaka route," the Central News Agency quoted Northwest's Taipei manager Chang Chien-jen (張建仁) as saying.
"This will increase the seats on our Taipei-Japan route from the current 364 to 403," Chang said. "US-bound Taiwan passengers can still fly to the US by flying to Osaka, and then changing flights."
Northwest, the world's fourth-largest airline, launched Taipei-Tokyo flights more than 30 years ago. Many Taiwanese and other Asian passengers have flown the route to connect with Northwest flights bound for the US.
Chang did not describe the economic losses the airline has suffered on its Taipei-Tokyo route. But a staff member at the CKS International Airport contradicted Chang's remarks by telling reporters that Northwest's Taipei-Tokyo flights are "nearly full."
Analysts believe that North-west's cutting of the Taipei-Tokyo route to open up Tokyo-Guangzhou flights is part of its plan to enter the world's largest aviation market.
Major US airlines have been lining up to enter the China market after the US and China signed a new air pact on July 24, which allowed five additional airlines from each country to begin direct services in the next six years.
On Oct. 25, Northwest Cargo -- the cargo subsidiary of Northwest -- announced plans to add eight weekly flights next year between Shanghai and Anchorage providing same-day connections to four destinations in the US. NWA Cargo has also applied to launch eight more US-China cargo flights in 2006.