Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan opening market to more flight services

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Lin Kuo-hsien talks at a Taipei news conference about Starlux Airlines Co’s application to begin operations.

Photo: Chen Yi-chia, Taipei Times

Groups or individuals interested in launching flight services in Taiwan are welcome to submit applications after an amendment to the Regulations on Civil Air Transport Enterprise (民用航空運輸業管理規則) takes effect next week, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday, adding that the nation’s civil aviation market is a booming, but competitive market.

The amendment was approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Thursday last week and is to take effect two weeks after its publication, the agency said.

StarLux Airlines, founded by former EVA Air chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒), earlier this week said that it plans to submit next week an application for flight services.

Its fleet would include at least 10 Airbus A321neo aircraft, with operations officially commencing in 2020, the company said.

Commenting on the increasing number of international carriers serving Taiwan, CAA Director-General Lin Kuo-hsien (林國顯) said that Boeing and Airbus have forecast that global air transport services would see an average growth of 4 to 5 percent in the next 20 years, with most of the increase coming from China, Taiwan, other northeast Asian nations, as well as Southeast Asia.

Passengers traffic at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last year grew almost 8 percent to 44.8 million, an indication that the nation’s air transport industry is also on an upward trajectory, as forecast by both aircraft manufacturers, Lin said.

The Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) serviced 1.66 million aircraft last year, which transported 66 million passengers, including about 10 million domestic travelers, Lin said.

The consistent growth in passenger numbers has prompted several international carriers to resume services in Taiwan, including Air Canada, Air France and Air New Zealand, Lin said.

The government has changed the criteria for new carriers to launch services in Taiwan, as an increasing number of international airlines see Taiwan as booming market and a potential hub, Lin said.

Because of its location, flights from Taiwan can reach any major city in the Asia-Pacific region in 2.55 hours on average, he said.

Taiwan has about 602 flights per week to 18 Southeast Asian nations and close to 600 flights per week to about 61 cities in China, Lin said, adding that 700 to 800 flights per week are Japan or South Korea bound.

Both the nation and consumers stand to benefit from the entry of more flight carriers, Lin said.

Low-cost carriers account for only 16 percent of the nation’s civil aviation service market, compared with 30 to 40 percent in other countries, he said, implying that there is room for growth for budget carriers.

However, carriers must be cautious in operating their business, as four European airlines folded last year, he said.

“This is certainly a growing market, in which players compete fiercely. However, one is not guaranteed profits by simply entering the market,” Lin said.

“Those wanting to join the flight service business must think carefully and be prepared,” he added.

CAA statistics showed that the nation posted a service fee revenue of NT$3.9 billion (US$133.3 million) last year for charging aircraft accessing the Taipei FIR, a 0.8 percent increase from 2016.

Of the total, NT$2.05 billion was paid to foreign carriers, up 13 percent.

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport ranked third in the Airports Council International’s airport service quality survey last year in the category of international airports with more than 40 million passengers per year, the council announced in Montreal, Canada yesterday.

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