Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Pingtung Airport to close after usage rates plummet

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday announced that the Executive Yuan had approved a plan to cease operations at Pingtung Airport because of its low usage rate.

CAA statistics show that the airport’s average usage rate is 25 percent. Passengers on domestic flights have dropped by more than 90 percent, from 37,449 in 2007 to 3,552 last year.

People heading to Pingtung can take the high-speed rail or Taiwan Railway Administration service to Tsoying (左營) station and quickly switch to other means of ground transportation from there.

Uni Air is the only carrier offering two-way flight services between Taipei and Pingtung on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. The carrier uses DASH 8-300 aircraft with a capacity of 56 passengers. The average occupancy rate has hit single-digit figures in recent years.

CAA Deputy Director-General Chen Tien-tsyh (陳天賜) said Uni Air had applied to suspend operations on the Taipei-Pingtung route from Monday.

“We are still awaiting instructions from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which received approval from the Executive Yuan,” Chen said. “The airline also needs time to inform its customers about the change, so it [suspension of flights] could potentially take effect on Aug. 10.”

Chen said there was no plan to close the airport in Hengchun (恆春), Pintung County, which has a usage rate of 30 percent.

He said the government had plans to increase usage of the Hengchun Airport, including allowing ultra-light aircraft to use the airport.

The CAA will also hold discussions with the Ministry of National Defense on relocating a navy base near Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Pingtung Airport after the latter is closed.

The CAA could then expropriate the property previously owned by the Taiwanese navy to build a third runway in Taoyuan, he said.

Pingtung Airport began operations in November 1994, with the former Jhonjheng Museum of Arts building in Pingtung County used as the airport’s passenger terminal.

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