Local airlines have offered cut-price fares on selected domestic routes since September to attract passengers as domestic traffic volume has dropped 65 percent over the past decade, a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) official said yesterday.
The number of domestic flight passengers peaked at 37.39 million in 1997, but has since dwindled because of improvements in the highway system.
The passenger loads dropped to 17.36 million last year, CAA tallies showed.
The domestic airline industry was hit especially hard by the opening of the high-speed rail link at the beginning of this year, the official said, adding that companies were forced to cancel their Taipei-Taichung and Taipei-Chiayi routes.
Domestic flight passenger volume for the first nine months of this year stood at only 10.24 million and the total number of passengers for the year is forecast to hit a maximum of 10.3 million, the official said.
Since September, the nation's four domestic flight operators -- Far Eastern Air Transport Corp (遠東航空), TransAsia Airways (復興航空), Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) and Uni Airways Corp (立榮航空) -- have been waging a price war, with some offering cheaper fares than the high-speed rail services on the Taipei-Kaohsiung and Taipei-Tainan routes. The result has been a significant rebound in the number of passengers.