Mon, Dec 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Brunei Airlines resumes flights scrapped in 2003

SLOW RECOVERY:The airline offered daily departures until the outbreak of SARS, but returns to Taiwan today amid a wave of flight resumptions by foreign carriers

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Travel agents said that they are eyeing new business opportunities as Royal Brunei Airlines resumes flights to Taiwan today.

The airline first launched flights to Taiwan in 1986, but canceled daily flights in 2003 due to the SARS outbreak, offering only charter flights during the Lunar New Year holidays.

The airline’s return comes as the Cabinet aims to bolster ties with Southeast Asian countries as part of its New Southbound Policy.

The airline has initially scheduled three weekly departures on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, with flights departing from Brunei International Airport at 10:15am and landing at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 1:45pm, and the return flight leaving Taoyuan at 3pm and landing at 6:30pm, the airline said.

Taiwan and Brunei share the same time zone.

All flights are to be operated with Airbus A320neo aircraft, the airline said.

The relaunch of direct flights between Taiwan and Brunei came after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in July said it would extend a trial visa-waiver program for travelers from Brunei, Thailand and the Philippines until July 31 next year. The program allows nationals of the three countries to stay in Taiwan for 14 days without needing a visa.

Best Way Travel vice president Coco Yu (俞示芬) said that most Taiwanese know Brunei because of Bruneian actor and singer Wu Chun (吳尊), who was a member of Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit.

Wu is the airline’s ambassador in Taiwan, she said.

Brunei has potential as a new travel destination, as many Taiwanese have already visited other countries in Southeast Asia, she said.

The Muslim-majority country has tropical rainforests, golf courses and five-star holiday resorts, and presents a new option for people looking for a short trip abroad, she said.

Taiwan has been promoting itself as a country friendly to Muslim tourists and direct flights should entice Bruneians to pay the nation a visit, Yu said, adding that Brunei also has a population of people of Chinese descent.

Air France and Air New Zealand have also resumed flights to Taiwan this year, while Japan’s StarFlyer, Philippines AirAsia and Cambodian Airlines have included Taiwan in their schedules for the first time.

Meanwhile, Royal Flight Airlines, a charter airline based in the central Russian city of Abakan, has said it would launch direct flights between Taipei and Moscow in May next year, starting with two weekly departures.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration confirmed that Polish Airlines on Friday last week started codeshare flights with Singapore Airlines between Taipei and Warsaw via Singapore, initially offering four connections each week.

Taiwan and Poland in 2015 signed an aviation pact, according to which flights from Taiwan can depart from either Taoyuan or Kaohsiung International Airport and land in Warsaw or two other airports in Poland.

The agreement offers Taiwanese airlines fifth freedom rights, meaning that they can pick up passengers in Poland before continuing to a third country.

Taiwan Orchid Express, Polish Airlines’ agent in Taiwan, said that the airline believes the Asian market has great business potential.

The airline is testing the waters by launching codeshare flights with Singapore Airlines, the company said.

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