Thu, Jul 15, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Empty seats a rarity for Taipei-Shanghai carriers


Three Taiwanese airlines say strong demand has pushed the occupancy on nonstop flights between Taipei Songshan Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao Airport to more than 90 percent.

Direct flights between the airports were launched on June 14, with Taiwan-based China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空), EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) and TransAsia Airways Corp (復興航空) offering 14 round-trip flights per week on the route.

CAL said its occupancy rate on the route had been as high as 97 percent, while the occupancy rates reported by EVA and TransAsia have exceeded 90 percent.

“Demand has been very strong since the inauguration of the new service,” CAL spokesman Hamilton Liu (劉國芊) said. “The ongoing Shanghai World Expo and the current peak summer season have made it hard for travelers to get a ticket at the moment.”

He said the company would start using an Airbus A330 in October to to meet demand on the route once Songshan Airport can accommodate the larger aircraft. The A330 has more than 200 seats, compared with 157 seats on CAL’s Boeing 737.

CAL and EVA each provide six round-trip flights between the city airports per week, while Trans­Asia offers two.

They would prefer to offer more flights to meet the strong demand.

“As a commercial carrier, EVA Air would like to raise supply, but it all depends on further negotiations across the Taiwan Strait,” an EVA spokeswoman said.

Shares of CAL and EVA rose significantly after the launch of the Songshan-Hongqiao flights because of the route’s convenience. By flying between airports that are closer to the cities’ centers, the new service makes it easier for business travelers to make a round trip between Taipei and Shanghai in a single day.

A TransAsia spokeswoman said that because business travelers are the main group using the new service, she expects robust demand to continue after the Shanghai World Expo and the summer vacation comes to an end.

Every week, CAL provides 61 flights to 14 Chinese destinations, EVA offers 77 flights to 17 Chinese destinations and TransAsia operates 24 flights to seven Chinese destinations.

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