Mon, Jun 22, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Transit change to benefit Chinese

SHARING THE WEALTH:The nation’s airlines could receive a huge boost from the estimated 500,000 extra Chinese who are forecast to transit through Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

As many as 500,000 Chinese could transit through Taiwan’s airports in the first 12 months after a recent relaxation in restrictions on Chinese transit passengers takes effect, Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Chien-yu (陳建宇) said.

That number could rise to 800,000 in the following 12 months as more Chinese travelers discover that transiting through Taiwan on their way to third countries could save them time and money, Chen said.

“This service could be especially attractive to those traveling between second or third-tier Chinese cities and North American countries or Australia,” Chen said.

Most travelers from cities such as Wuxi and Xiamen in southern China and Shijiazhuang and Taiyuan in northern China heading to third countries currently have to transit via South Korea, Japan or Hong Kong, he said.

Taiwanese travelers can make transit stops in China en route to other countries, but China does not allow its nationals to do so through Taiwan, which has put Taiwanese airlines at a significant disadvantage relative to their regional rivals.

Beijing has expressed concern that the inspection of Chinese passports in Taiwan during transit stops or layovers could signal that it sees Taiwan as a sovereign country.

However, in a meeting between top Taiwanese and Chinese officials on May 23, the two sides reached a consensus on allowing Chinese tourists to use Taiwan as a transit destination and the practice is expected to begin in the near future.

Chinese travelers are to be able to transit through Taiwan as long as they hold passports, airline tickets and visas from the countries they intend to visit, Chen said.

High-ranking executives at China Airlines and EVA Airways — the two largest airlines in Taiwan — said they were optimistic about the market prospects for the transit business.

CAL chairman Sun Hung-hsiang (孫洪祥) said that if only 15 percent of the total number of Chinese tourists traveling between China and the US transited in Taiwan, it would be a great boost to the company.

According to the US Department of Commerce, visitor growth from China to the US will increase by 172 percent to 3.1 million visitors by 2019.

EVA president Austin Cheng (鄭傳義) said EVA was optimistic about the development and welcomed the liberalization of the aviation market across the Taiwan Strait.

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