Tue, Oct 02, 2007 - Page 4 News List

High speed rail cuts into domestic air traffic, MOTC says


The high speed rail has dealt a heavy blow to domestic air traffic, reducing the number of air passengers by 22 percent compared with figures for the same period last year, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.

Ministry officials said there were approximately 119,000 domestic flights in the first six months of this year, down 13.72 percent from the 138,000 flights during the same period last year.

The number of air passengers on domestic routes totaled 6.72 million in the first six months of this year, down 22.14 percent from the 8.63 million the same period last year.

By comparison, the number of international flights totaled 95,820 during the first half of this year, up 3.36 percent over the figure for the same period last year.

The number of passengers on these international flights totaled 12.01 million, up 4.26 percent from the 11.52 million last year.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Tsai Duei (蔡堆) said the launch of the high speed rail service in early January had affected other transportation operators, especially domestic air carriers.

Taking consumer rights as well as the sustainable development of air carriers into consideration, the ministry has reviewed flight routes and numbers and begun working with the industry to promote package tours, he said.

Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Billy Chang (張國政) said a sluggish economy as well as convenient land transportation had affected domestic air carriers.

As the air carriers cannot allow their planes to lie idle, some have been forced to cut air fares to compete with the high speed rail, Chang said, adding that "this is not a good thing."

The railway has cut travel time between Taipei and Kaohsiung -- five hours on a regular train -- by more than half.

The high speed rail operates 45 round-trip runs daily, carrying about 50,000 passengers. It has transported 10 million passengers since its inauguration on Jan. 5.

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