Thu, Apr 02, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Occupancy on cross-strait flights tops 90%, EVA says

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Passenger occupancy on EVA Airways Corp’s (長榮航空) cross-strait flights reached 90 percent last month and demand is expected to remain strong, a company spokesman said yesterday.

Spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) said the launch of cross-strait weekend charter flights had not attracted many Chinese last year, as Chinese found flights to be inconvenient and infrequent. The occupancy rate last year was between 60 percent and 70 percent.

“Convenience is the most important thing [for passengers],” Nieh said.

However, since cross-strait daily chartered flights were inaugurated on Dec. 15, the increase in the number of flights and their convenience have begun to attract more interest from passengers.

The occupancy rate on flights to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai all exceeded 90 percent last month, but China-based Taiwanese businesspeople were still the major users of the cross-strait charter flight services, Nieh said.

“Demand for cross-strait flights exceeds supply,” Nieh said, adding that demand appeared to be unaffected by the financial crisis and was expected to continue growing.

Nieh said EVA Airways, the nation’s second-largest air carrier, hoped the government would discuss expanding the number of flights with its Chinese counterpart during the next round of talks.

Domestic air carrier UNI Airways Corp (立榮航空), a subsidiary of EVA Airways, said yesterday the number of Chinese who visited Taiwan via a third destination reached 7,000 last month, adding that the number could double in July or August after China announced in February it would increase the number of travel agencies authorized to arrange tour groups to Taiwan to 146 from the initial 33.

“As a result, UNI Airways plans to increase the number of flights between Taipei and Kinmen, and Kaohsiung and Kinmen, by 20 percent in June to meet the expected increase in demand for our flight services,” UNI Airways chief executive vice president Chen Shyong-jyh (陳雄智) said.

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