China Airlines Ltd (中華航空, CAL) yesterday launched direct services between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Japan’s Takamatsu Airport to take advantage of growing travel demand between the two countries.
The newly launched service also made China Airlines, the nation’s largest airline, the first Taiwanese carrier to offer regular flights to Shikoku Island in western Japan, the company said in a statement.
The company also announced it would increase its weekly flights between Taoyuan airport and Shizuoka and Toyama, as well as between Kaohsiung and Osaka over the coming months to further expand its Japanese presence.
“The increase in flights and destinations on Japanese routes follows policy deregulation from the open sky agreement and consistent travel demand between Taiwan and Japan,” Fubon Securities Investment Services Co (富邦投顧) analyst Chloe Wu (吳家瑋) said yesterday.
“US and Japan routes will be CAL’s two major growth drivers this year,” she added.
China Airlines said in a statement that it would operate two weekly flights between the Taoyuan airport and Takamatsu every Thursday and Sunday using its Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which are equipped with eight business-class seats and 150 economy-class seats.
Regarding its plans to increase the frequency of its existing Japan services, the airline said that from next month it will offer four weekly flights on the Taoyuan-Shizuoka route instead of three, and increase weekly flights to Toyama to four from two.
In July, the airline would expand its Kaohsiung-Osaka service to five weekly flights from two, it added.
The latest statistics provided by the Tourism Bureau showed the number of Japanese visiting Taiwan declined by about 7 percent in the first two months of the year to 21,200 from the same period of last year, while visitors from China increased 35 percent year-on-year to 41,100.
SinoPac Securities Investment Service (永豐投顧) attributed the decline in Japanese visitors to some companies’s postponing business trips to this month from last month because of the Lunar New Year holiday.
“It is also partially because the weakening yen has affected people’s overseas travel interests,” SinoPac Securities said yesterday in a note.
China Airlines shares closed 0.41 percent lower at NT$12 yesterday.
Fubon raised its target price on the airline to NT$14.9 from NT$12.05, saying it was still positive on CAL’s shares, given the better outlook for its passenger business and a likely recovery in the cargo sector in the second half of the year.