Wed, Jan 11, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Government vows to preserve domestic flights amid Mandarin Airlines’ losses

EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE:The transportation ministry said that, despite their cost, flights to eastern areas give travelers another option to land-based transportation

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

The government will not suspend any domestic flight routes, despite Mandarin Airlines reporting financial losses on flights between Taipei and Hualien, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.

Mandarin Airlines, a subsidiary of China Airlines, was asked to temporarily take over flights on the route, as well as one between Taichung and Hualien, after the previous operator, TransAsia Airways, late last year announced that it was dissolving its business.

The temporary takeover began on Dec. 1 and is to last until Feb. 15.

However, Mandarin Airlines has reported losses of about NT$15 million (US$469,513) less than two months after it began operating the flights to and from Hualien.

Other airlines had expressed an interest in taking over TransAsia’s aviation rights, because they would allow them to operate lucrative cross-strait flights, even though they would also have to operate unprofitable domestic routes, such as those to Hualien, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said.

However, interest quickly faded after Beijing rescinded some of the favorable airport time slots previously allocated to TransAsia’s flights, Wang said, adding that any carriers taking over TransAsia’s aviation rights would receive disadvantageous landing or departure times at airports in China.

The ministry could try reducing aircraft landing or airport infrastructure fees for Mandarin Airlines during the temporary takeover period, Wang said, but added that air transportation services to eastern areas would not be suspended because of financial losses, because they must serve as alternatives to land transportation that is often disrupted by inclement weather.

The takeover plan was created to prevent flights from being suspended, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said.

Airfare must remain unchanged, despite Mandarin Airlines’ use of a passenger jet that can accommodate 100 passengers instead of smaller turboprop aircraft that TransAsia used, Hochen said, adding that passengers would be charged more expensive fares after Feb. 15.

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