Sun, Aug 21, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Taoyuan airport in the doldrums

FEWER TRANSITS:Officials said it was unlikely border control policy would soon be relaxed in order to attract transit passengers wishing to avoid Beijing and Shanghai

Staff Writer, with CNA

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the nation’s largest and busiest airport, recorded major declines in both its volume of passengers and cargo transfers in the first half of the year, a worrying sign for the airport’s new operator, Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIAC).

TIAC, a state-run company, was established with funding from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) on Nov. 1 last year to manage the airport. One of its major stated goals is to develop the airport into a regional air transportation center.

According to TIAC statistics released on Friday, the airport’s passenger traffic volume fell to 11.94 million arrivals in the first six months of the year, a decline of 4.1 percent from the same period last year.

Among the arrivals, 892,600 passengers made transit stops in Taiwan, a 14.9 percent decline from 1.05 million people last year, the statistics showed.

In terms of cargo shipments, transportation volume stood at 817,433 tonnes in the first half of the year, a year-on-year decline of 6.7 percent. Among the cargo shipments, 284,681 tonnes were transshipped cargo, falling by 14.03 percent from 331,127 tonnes in the same period last year.

“The figures are a warning sign,” said TIAC chairman Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時), who doubles as deputy minister of transportation and communications.

If the airport wants to become an East Asia transportation hub, it must be able to attract transit passengers from China, Yeh said.

According to a TIAC analysis, many inland Chinese airports only provide limited international air services. Therefore, passengers in inland cities who want to travel to other countries must first fly to Beijing and Shanghai to transit.

Because the Beijing and Shanghai airports are often overloaded, Taiwan could be a good option for Chinese passengers transiting overseas, TIAC researchers said.

However, to attract Chinese transit passengers, Taiwan must lift restrictions on their entry to Taiwan. Such a measure can’t be adopted, however, without relaxing the country’s border control policy, officials at the Civil Aeronautics Administration said, adding that the issue would be difficult to resolve in the short term.

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