Airfare subsidies for residents of outlying islands could exceed NT$500 million (US$16.6 million) this year following changes in government policy and an increase in the number of registered residents living outside Taiwan proper, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.
The government began providing subsidies to residents of the outlying islands in 1999 by giving them a 20 percent discount on the purchase of homebound tickets.
In 2009, the government decided to increase the discount for registered residents on Matsu to 30 percent due to requests from local politicians.
Starting last year, residents in Kinmen and Penghu also received a 30 percent discount for homebound tickets.
Residents of Cimei (七美), Wangan (望安), Lanyu (蘭嶼) and Green Island (綠島), meanwhile, were eligible for a 40 percent discount.
Statistics from CAA show that the government spent about NT$350 million subsidizing the purchase of homebound tickets for outlying island residents in 2000.
However, that amount rose to NT$470 million last year.
The CAA said the Kinmen County Government’s grants to registered residents as well as the popularity of the “small three links” to China has motivated many people to register residency in Kinmen.
Meanwhile, those working or studying on the outlying islands were motivated to register their households so they can enjoy the flight ticket discounts, the administration said.
All these factors have contributed to the increase in government subsidies for plane tickets.
Residents of outlying islands can save a substantial amount of money through the government subsidy program.
One-way tickets from Taipei to Kinmen costs about NT$2,190. The program allows residents of Kinmen to purchase a one-way ticket for NT1,533.