Palau Airways Corp, 68 percent owned by local investors, yesterday said it will offer four direct flights a week to Palau’s capital city Koror starting tomorrow.
The carrier will become the second airline, after China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空), to fly the Taipei-Koror route.
This will be the first route operated by Palau Airways, a six-month-old airline.
“We hope to operate the first route on a regular basis over the next few months, benefiting from Taiwan’s summer travel season,” company chairman Bruce Ho (賀東光) told reporters at the carrier’s Taipei launch.
Ho holds a major stake in the airline.
The carrier plans to expand its service gradually to other Asian-Pacific destinations in the second half of the year, with the aim of becoming a regional airline in the near future, Ho said.
Palau Airways is exploring possibilities to expand its destinations to include cities in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Australia.
The carrier also plans to charter another Boeing 757 aircraft by the end of this year, once new routes have been added.
The carrier has only one chartered plane at present, Ho said.
Based on booking records, the air carrier’s average passenger load factor for this month is expected to reach at least 70 percent.
Ho said he expects the Palau government to seek more hotel investors in the near future to boost the nation’s tourism industry and help drive up aviation passenger numbers.
Currently, CAL, the nation’s largest air carrier, also offers a regular flight service between the two nations, with four flights per week.
CAL spokesman Hamilton Liu (劉國芊) told the Taipei Times the company welcomed the new player operating the route between Taiwan and Palau.
“We hope Palau Airways’ presence will help expand the market,” Liu said.
The company’s passenger load for the route averaged about 80 percent this year, CAL said, adding that load factor for this month remained at the same level.