Domestic airlines are unlikely to cut ticket prices for flights to the nation’s outlying islands because operational costs are still too high to do so, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.
CAA Director-General Lee Lung-wen (李龍文) said yesterday that current ticket prices were promulgated in 2005. They were set based on the average fuel price in 2004, which was NT$13.08 per liter.
Lee said the fuel price had jumped since then to NT$29.09 per liter last year, registering an increase of 122 percent. CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油) announced earlier that the fuel price for this month is NT$16.09 per liter, still higher than the average fuel price in 2004.
Lee said that fuel price was only one of the factors affecting ticket prices, and one has to consider the increase in other costs as well.
The airlines have not adjusted prices since 2004, even though they should have when fuel prices were skyrocketing last year.
Lee said it was inappropriate for airlines to raise prices now, and it is unlikely that they will reduce prices now either.
For this year’s Lunar New Year holidays, all the airlines will jointly provide 819 round-trip flights to the islands.
Lee was responding to an appeal by the Consumers’ Foundation, which asked the airlines to reduce ticket prices by 18 percent, particularly after the amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act that legalizes the operation of casinos on the islands was passed at the Legislative Yuan on Monday.
Meanwhile, Lee and other officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday also briefed the press on how they plan to facilitate transportation during the Lunar New Year holiday.
MOTC Minister Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said that ticket prices should be determined by the market.
Mao added that the airline companies are all relieved by the fact that the fuel price has fallen drastically over the past few months. Overall business this year is supposed to be a bit better with the relatively profitable cross-strait charter flight service.
Mao also estimated that the drive from Taipei to Kaohsiung on the national freeway would take around six hours barring any serious accidents.
The Tourism Bureau confirmed yesterday that it is possible that Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan during the Lunar New Year holidays would exceed 10,000.
Bureau Director-General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said that some travel agencies had already complained to the bureau that they have had a hard time making reservations in hotels in central and eastern regions, particularly in popular locations like Sun Moon Lake and Alishan.
Many of the rooms have already been booked by local tourists that are scheduled to travel during this time, which left hardly any rooms for overseas tourists.
Lai said that they would try to get more accurate statistics from the hoteliers before considering how to respond.