Tue, Jan 09, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Hau's dream of an international airport falls flat

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

New Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) may be thinking that his campaign promise of turning Song-shan Airport into an international hub would be more difficult than he envisioned after a visit to the Civil Aviation Admin-istration (CAA) yesterday.

Hau held a closed-door meeting with CAA Director General Billy Chang (張國政) yesterday evening to exchange views on the possibility of upgrading Songshan into an international airport

National policy

"Although it [making Songshan an international airport] is technically viable," the mayor said after the meeting, "the CAA cannot solve some of the national policy-related issues."

"I will have to visit the Ministry of Transportation and Communications [MOTC] some other time to make them understand the enormous economical benefits an international airport would bring to Taipei," he said.

Hau said that the city government wants to make Songshan Airport a base for direct flights between Taipei and China, especially after media reports that the administration is considering having charter flights to Japan and South Korea land in and depart from the Songshan Airport.

Hau said he believed that the policy could also apply to charter flights to Hong Kong and Macau.

The CAA chief, however, said that this was a tricky issue.

Chang said that national policy has long established that the airport in Taoyuan should be positioned as an international airport while the one in Songshan is used as a domestic airport.

Limited facilities

While the airport in Songshan has enough runways and is better than Taoyuan in terms of location, the facilities within its terminal would have to be expanded to accommodate additional passengers, Chang said.

Chang added that other issues would also have to be addressed before Songshan could become an international airport, such as whether the airport would be open to all the regular flights to Hong Kong and Macau or if it would merely take in charter flights.

Moreover, the administration would also have to determine whether it would allow international flights to transit to a third country. These issues are related to freedoms of the air, he said, adding that it could only be resolved through negotiations.

"Maybe Mayor Hau thought it was going to be so easy," Chang added.

Chang said earlier this month that as the two runways at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport will be alternately closed for repair from next year through 2011, the CAA is considering allowing charter flights to South Korea and Japan to take off and land at Songshan Airport.

This story has been viewed 3518 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top