Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday said the ministry would not allow domestic aviation carriers to increase fares, and added that the ministry would not tolerate threats from any carrier.
Yeh made the statement at the legislature’s Transportation Committee while briefing lawmakers on operations at the Directorate-General of Highways.
Taitung County Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪) asked Yeh what he thought about comments by EVA Airways (EVA) president Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) on Tuesday that the company could stop offering domestic flights if the government refuses to allow carriers to increase airfares.
“It is true that rising oil prices have hit profits for domestic flight services,” Yeh said.
“As the administrative body that oversees the civil aviation sector, we need to protect the public’s right to access services while simultaneously ensuring the development of the aviation industry. However, the ministry will not tolerate threats by any airline,” he said.
Yeh also said that the ministry would talk to carriers in an effort to make pricing schemes for domestic flight tickets more flexible, adding that the government would continue to subsidize services to the nation’s outlying islands and remote areas.
The president of the nation’s second-largest carrier has not been shy in his criticism of the government’s aviation policies. Earlier this month, Chang described the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport as “a blank cartridge.”
In a meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Chang said the Evergreen Group had to turn down an order for aircraft maintenance services because there is not enough land to build a fourth hangar at the airport.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) asked Yeh how the ministry would resolve the problem.
Yeh said the land that EVA wants to build its new hangar on currently holds a private jet apron owned by Sunrise Airlines. He said that the group did not express its wish to acquire the land until after the government has finalized its development plan for the project.
China Airlines (CAL) also wanted to acquire the same plot of land because it is close to the airline’s headquarters, Yeh said, adding that both CAL and Sunrise Airlines had objected to selling the land to EVA.
Yeh said the ministry thought using the land for a maintenance hangar would be inefficient because it would impede airport development in the long term.
The ministry has helped the airline locate farmland near the airport for its planned hangar, but Yeh said it would take time to expropriate and develop the land.
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