President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) vision of a “golden aviation circle in Northeast Asia” is one step closer to reality as direct flights between Taipei International Airport (Songshan) and Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea, are set to debut today.
China Airlines will operate the first flight from Taiwan on the route. It is scheduled to depart at 9:25am today. From Gimpo, a flight operated by South Korea’s T’way Airlines will leave at 11am. Both carriers will use Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Until now, travelers heading to downtown Seoul needed to spend an extra hour on the road after they arrive at Incheon International Airport, the main international airport in Seoul. Traveling time will be reduced by 20 to 30 minutes if they land at Gimpo Airport.
Ma’s vision, announced while campaigning for the 2008 presidential election, also called for direct flights from Songshan to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport as well as to Tokyo Haneda Airport. Like Gimpo, Hongqiao and Haneda are closer to the centers of Shanghai and Tokyo when compared with the main airports in those cities.
Flights to Hongqiao began in June 2010 and to Haneda four months later.
Taiwan and South Korea did not reach an agreement on the Songshan-Gimpo route until last year. Both sides agreed to two flights per day at the initial stage of the route’s operation.
Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Yin Cheng-pong (尹承蓬) said Taiwan and South Korea also agreed to talk about raising the number of Songshan-Gimpo flights at the end of this year.
Some carriers have asked the CAA to increase direct flights to Hongqiao because demand has already outpaced supply.