The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday rejected allegations that a plan by major airlines to offer discount fares to Taiwanese living in China was an attempt to buy votes.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said the deal was reached between Taiwanese businesspeople’s associations and the carriers.
Yeh was responding to questions by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津), who said the ministry had invited five major air carriers on Tuesday to a meeting at which a deal was reached that would offer discounts of nearly 50 percent for those who buy tickets for the period between the Jan. 14 elections and the Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 23.
“The airlines will even provide shuttle buses for passengers to transport them to their home city or county,” Yeh Yi-jin said, asking the deputy minister, who presided over the Tuesday meeting, whether this constitutes vote-buying for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration.
Yeh Kuang-shih said since the two events were so close to each other, many Taiwanese businesspeople were unwilling to shoulder the cost of two trips home in such a short period of time, prompting the associations to seek assistance from the ministry.
“It was for this reason the ministry convened the meeting between the Taiwanese business associations and the five major carriers,” he said.
As the additional cross-strait flights for the holiday period are often scheduled for late night when there is no public transport from the airport, he said he asked the carriers to take care of the shuttle problem, and the carriers agreed.
He added that cheap air fares and shuttle services alone “will not be able to sway” the voting preferences of returning Taiwanese.