Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - Page 3 News List

CAA to replace planes serving remote areas

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) is planning to replace all aging planes serving the outlying islands and remote areas within two years, it said yesterday

There are five flight services that cover these areas: two in the east, between Taitung Airport and two islands under the county’s jurisdiction — Lanyu (蘭嶼) and Green Island (綠島); one in the west, between Magong Airport in Penghu County to the county’s Cimei Islet (七美); and two more, between Greater Kaohsiung and Cimei and Wangan Islet (望安) in Penghu County.

Daily Air owns the exclusive rights to these five routes.

Two other airlines — Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines — used to fly the routes, but as they continued to post losses, the CAA decided to grant the right to operate the five lossmaking routes to a single carrier.

Daily won the exclusive right to offer these flights in a bidding in 2004. It also inherited four Fair-child-Dornier aircraft from the two previous carriers and launched its service in 2005.

Daily said that one of the aircraft has been in service for more than 20 years and another one for 19 years. The other two planes have also been in active service for 16 years and would reach retirement age in two years.

According to the CAA, airlines are only encouraged to operate these flights if they receive a subsidy from the government.

Since the purchase of new aircraft would increase the carrier’s operational costs, which would necessitate an increase in government subsidies and bonuses, the CAA said it would hold another bidding this year and welcomes tenders from all interested carriers.

Daily receives a subsidy of NT$150 million (US$5.05 million) per year from the CAA to cover operational losses. The maximum bonus it could receive per year is NT$5 million.

The purchase of new planes will cause the subsidy to increase to NT$300 million to NT$400 million.

Aside from Daily Air, Sunrise Airlines, Emerald Pacific Airlines, Great Wing Airlines and ROC Aviation Co are potential bidders.

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