Taiwan’s Airports Council International ranking rose to the top 10 in the fourth quarter last year following a substantial improvement in the infrastructure of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.
The nation’s largest airport had fared poorly in the international ranking in recent years, sliding from No. 14 in 2007 to the bottom of the list, No. 29, in 2011.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) had vowed in 2010 to raise the airport’s ranking to the top 10 within three years when he was chairman of Taoyuan International Airport Corp.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday said making the improvements while the airport was still operating was like mending a suit while wearing it.
Construction work had inconvenienced passengers, which explained the airport’s low ranking in the past few years, he said.
At its press conference to announce the latest ranking, the ministry recapitulated its accomplishments last year, and outlined its policy goals for this year.
Railway and MRT systems saw their largest increase in passengers last year, the ministry said, while cargo volume at the nation’s international seaports topped 690 million revenue tonnes, the highest in the past five years.
Foreign trade values in the free-trade zones, including those at Taoyuan airport and four international seaports, reached NT$501.9 billion (US$17 billion), with the average percentage of growth topping 49 percent between 2010 and last year, the ministry said.
The ministry would focus on several new policies this year, Mao said. It would submit its proposed rates for the pay-as-you-go program on freeways to the legislature for review after the Lunar New Year holiday, he said.
“We have yet to finalize the plan,” he said. “However, the rate plan should be set following two fundamental principles: the Freeway Construction Fund (國道建設基金) must not go bankrupt, and the rate must reflect the consensus of the general public.”
The ministry has also finished drafting laws on gambling, which would be submitted to the Executive Yuan for approval after hearing opinions from other government agencies, he said.
“We want to maximize what is good [in gambling] and minimize what is bad,” Mao said, adding that the gambling would be tightly controlled by the government.
The ministry has drafted two acts, one regarding the regulation of casinos in resorts and the other involving the formation of an agency to manage the gambling industry, he said.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇) said a variety of issues had emerged from interdepartmental discussions, including whether the ministry should be the authority in charge of the gambling industry, whether gamblers should be allowed to use their credit cards in the casinos and whether gambling winnings should be taxed.