China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空), the nation’s largest carrier, yesterday expressed expectations that Taiwan could become a major transit center for Chinese tourists after negotiations between the Taiwanese and Chinese governments scheduled for the second half of the year.
“We believe Taiwan will have strong competitiveness [as a connecting hub] for tourists in central China, eastern China and southern China,” CAL chairman Sun Hung-hsiang (孫洪祥) said at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
The carrier is scheduled to launch new services to China’s four second-tier and third-tier cities — Xuzhou in Jiangsu Province, Hefei in Anhui Province, Yantai in Shandong Province and Changchun in Jilin Province — in May.
However, CAL sees higher potential in boosting flight frequencies on routes to certain first-tier cities in China by serving tourists who take connecting flights at the airport in Taoyuan, Sun said.
Asked about the business outlook for the current quarter, Sun said the fundamentals did not show a significant change compared with last year, with the passenger sector still showing stronger momentum than the cargo business.
Flights to Japan would remain a major sales driver for CAL’s passenger business this year, Sun said, adding that the airline is planning to raise flight frequencies on routes between Taipei and Japan’s Takamatsu and Shizuoka, as well as those between Greater Kaohsiung and Tokyo.
CAL posted NT$22.62 billion (US$746.41 million) in consolidated sales in the first two months of the year, up 6.08 percent from a year earlier, the company’s stock exchange filing showed on Monday.
EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空, EVA), the nation’s second-largest airline, also reported that sales from January through last month rose 2.73 percent year-on-year to NT$19.7 billion, while TransAsia Airways Corp (TNA, 復興航空), which focuses on regional passenger services in Asia, saw revenue increase 12.24 percent to NT$1.97 billion over the same period.