Fri, Jul 04, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Delta Air Lines is mulls relaunch of Taiwan-US flights

STRONG GROWTH:The company said that the US visa-waiver program had led to increased visitors from Taiwan, making direct flights viable again

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

US-based Delta Air Lines Inc is mulling a direct flight between Taiwan and the US, as the number of Taiwanese visitors to the US continues to show strong growth following the launch of a US visa-waiver program in 2012.

However, the carrier has not finalized the route that is to be launched and what the possible timeframe could be, a company official told a media briefing in Taipei yesterday.

“We are evaluating the feasibility [of relaunching direct flights from the US to Taiwan],” Raymond Chang (張建仁), Delta Air’s general manager in Taiwan and South Korea, told a media briefing yesterday.

The number of Taiwanese visitors to China showed growth of more than 35 percent last year from 2012, mainly on the back of the US visa-waiver program, Chang said.

In addition, the average capacity of Delta Air’s route from Taipei to Tokyo is generally higher than 85 percent, with about 80 percent of passengers then taking a connecting flight to the US, reflecting the strong passenger demand for flights from Taiwan to the US, he added.

The US carrier operated direct flight services between Taipei and Portland, Oregon, between 1989 and 1995.

Delta Air currently flies a route between Taipei and Tokyo, from where passengers can take the carrier’s connecting flights to eight cities in the US.

In related news, AirAsia, the largest budget carrier in Asia, yesterday announced is to re-launch its low-cost carrier franchise in Japan, teaming-up with four companies.

The Malaysian carrier aims to re-establish itself in the Japanese market after the closure of its joint venture with All Nippon Airways last year, with the joint venture’s first route expected to be launched in summer next year at the soonest.

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