Mon, Apr 13, 2009 - Page 2 News List

FAT’s hopes flicker with cancelation of flight rights

EXPIRED The CAA said the company’s right to operate several international routes had already expired in January, but the firm has a chance at cross-strait flights

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Far Eastern Air Transport’s (FAT) hopes for resuming operations dimmed as the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday it had withdrawn the firm’s right to operate several profitable international routes.

CAA Deputy Director-General Lin Shinn-der (林信得) said FAT’s right to operate the international flights had already expired in January.

“If we do not withdraw [the rights], other airlines would say that this is really a waste of the nation’s aviation resources. So now they can go ahead and take over,” Lin said.

FAT still holds the rights to operate flights to the nation’s outlying islands and the CAA has also reserved a spot for FAT to operate cross-strait flights, Lin said.

The CAA said FAT would not be able to fly to Incheon and Jeju in Korea, U-Tapao International Airport and Phuket in Thailand, Hanoi and Da Nang in Vietnam, Bali in Indonesia, Laoag in the Philippines and Kota Kinabalu and Kuching in Malaysia. It will soon open these flights to other airlines.

The CAA ruling makes it less likely that the debt-ridden company will be able to survive following its application with the Taipei District Court to restructure its finances last year and its aircraft being impounded as collateral for banks.

The court is scheduled to rule on the application by May 16, but the airline is unlikely to be able to join negotiations for the distribution of cross-strait flights after the third cross-strait talk in Nanjing next month.

One of the topics on the agenda is whether to change from a cross-strait charter flight service to a regular cross-strait flight service. The key difference is that charter flights can be canceled if there are not enough passengers for the flight, while regular flights cannot.

In related news, Aviation Safety Council (ASC) director Yang Hung-chi (楊宏智) said yesterday that officials from Taiwan and China had been discussing cross-strait flight safety issues. He said the two sides are likely to agree that, given the special status of Taiwan-China relations, in the case of accidents involving cross-strait flights, the right to launch investigations would be determined by where the accident happened. Two designated ­handover points now demarcate each side’s flight control zone.

The handover point for the flights to northern China is called Sulem, which is located at 27°N and 122°E on the map. Flights to southern China must follow handover procedures at the designated flight control area near Hong Kong.

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