Tue, Jan 29, 2008 - Page 2 News List

CAA approves end of Taipei-Kaohsiung flights on Uni Air

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Civil Aeronautics Adminis-tration (CAA) said yesterday that it has approved Uni Air's (立榮航空) application to cancel all of its flights between Taipei and Kaohsiung, effective from March.

Four domestic airliners jointly provide 22 daily flights between Taipei and Kaohsiung. Uni provides two round-trip flights a day.

CAA deputy director-general Lin Shinn-der (林信得) said the administration will soon invite the remaining three airlines -- Mandarin Airlines (華信航空), Far Eastern Air Transport (遠東航空) and TransAsia Airways (復興航空) -- to jointly work out the schedule for March.

"[Uni's decision] is the result of free market competition," he said.

This would be the third approval for flight cancellations issued by the CAA since last year when Mandarin canceled its Taipei-Taichung flight in August and Uni canceled its Taipei-Chiayi route in October.

Lin said yesterday that passenger loads on all domestic flights along the west coast have declined since the high speed rail began operation in March last year.

Lin said that Uni applied to withdraw the Taipei-Kaohsiung flight last month, and the company originally planned to stop operations starting on the 15th of next month, but the CAA asked the company to start canceling flights in March instead, he said.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) approved the application last week, Lin said.

The administration also issued a statement yesterday saying that the company had tried in September to offer a 50 percent discount for passengers on the Taipei-Kaohsiung flight. The move, however, failed to help Uni win back enough lost customers to continue the route.

Last month, the company had 9,890 passengers taking the Taipei-Kaohsiung flights, which was only 14.7 percent of the total for the same period a year earlier.

The company suffered an accumulated loss of NT$104 million (US$3.15 million) for operating the Taipei-Kaohsiung flight last year.

On the west coast, Uni still has the right to operate flights between Taipei and Hengchun (恆春) and between Taipei and Pingtung.

Lin said the administration has determined that Uni's withdrawal will have only a slight impact on passenger transportation.

To protect the interests of air passengers, Lin said the administration has asked the company to inform customers about the upcoming change.

Passengers are also entitled to ask for a full refund of the tickets without any additional processing fees.

Lin confirmed yesterday that Mandarin Airlines has recently applied to suspend flights between Taichung and Taitung while Far Eastern has also requested an end to its Taipei-Tainan flights.

The MOTC has yet to approve the applications, he said.

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