The Civil Aeronautics Administra-tion (CAA) announced yesterday that the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) had recently approved an application from four major domestic airlines to allow passengers taking flights from Taipei to Tainan or from Taipei to Kaohsiung to switch carriers without incurring additional fees.
When introduced, the measure will enable passengers to board virtually any flight that is available -- not necessarily the airline for which they purchased the ticket.
However, as of yesterday, the four domestic airlines -- Far Easter Air Transport, Uni Air, TransAsia Airways and Mandarin Airlines -- had yet to decide if they would charge passengers an identical ticket price as well. Nor had they decided when the new measure would be launched, the administration said.
CAA Deputy Director General Lee Chung-rong (李仲榮) said yesterday the four airlines would have to submit another application to the FTC if they decide to establish identical ticket prices.
They would also have to submit their plan to the CAA for final review, Lee said.
The administration will further require carriers to specify on their flight tickets whether or not they allow passengers to switch carriers, he said.
Lee said the measure would shorten the average waiting time to 30 minutes or less. Passengers taking the flight from Taipei to Kaohsiung, for example, normally have to wait an average of two hours for a seat on a plane.
The commission consulted CAA regarding the four carriers' initiative and decided the benefits would outweigh the disadvantages, the FTC said.
However, the FTC said that because it had yet to see solid evidence to demonstrate that the operation of the high-speed railway will have a significant impact on the airline industry, it would only permit the four carriers to execute the ticket-switching plan until August 2008.
The commission allows all carriers to continue setting their own respective ticket prices for both routes.
The settling of accounts will be left up to the individual companies, the commission said.
While all four carriers currently operate on the route between Taipei and Kaohsiung, only Far Eastern and TransAsia Airways service the route between Taipei and Tainan.
Though applications for both routes have already been approved, Far Eastern and TransAsia told the press yesterday that they would not introduce ticket switching on the Taipei-Tainan route.