Sun, Aug 12, 2007 - Page 4 News List

CAA mulls extra runway at Wuliting Airport in Hengchun

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) is studying the feasibility of building another runway at Wuliting Airport in Hengchun (恆春), Pingtung County, CAA Director General Billy Chang (張國政) said yesterday.

Chang said that during winter there are often strong winds in Hengchun, which create difficulties for airplanes during take off and landing. The CAA has therefore began a study on the feasibility of building another runway perpendicular to the present one to help airplane pilots to overcome these problems.

He said the airport originally cost approximately NT$539 million (US$16.33 million) to build and initial estimates put the price for constructing another runway at NT$1 billion.

The money would mainly be spent purchasing land and coordinating with state-owned Taiwan Power Co to relocate an underground electric cable, Chang said.

CAA officials said Hengchun airport was inaugurated in January 2004 chiefly to help relieve traffic congestion at nearby Kenting National Park during the holiday season.

Three airlines -- UNI Airways Corp, Trans Asia Airways and Mandarin Airlines -- originally offered daily flight services between Hengchun and Taipei, Taichung and Taitung, but because the passenger occupancy rate has averaged less than 40 percent during the past two years, the number of flights has gradually been cut.

The CAA requested Mandarin Airlines and Trans Asia Airways withdraw from the Taipei-Hengchun route. As of Friday only UNI Airways will now fly the route.

UNI Airways chairman Su Hung-yi (蘇宏義) said that Hengchun Peninsula attracts 5 million tourists every year, including many from Japan and Hong Kong. The airline is looking to cooperate with operators of leisure activities to promote travel to Hengchun on UNI Airways, Su said.

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