Mon, Mar 04, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Hengchun Airport eyes license extension

CENTRAL FUNDS:The county said that Hengchun Airport, which has not seen scheduled flights since 2014, might be able to attract airlines if it received help to extend its runway

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A quiet Hengchun Airport in Pingtung County basks in the sun on Jan. 22.

Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Taipei Times

The Pingtung County Government yesterday said that it would ask the central government for an extension allowing international charter flights to continue to land at Hengchun Airport, which has not seen any passenger flights for almost five years.

Previously used only by the military, Hengchun Airport was renovated to double as a civilian airport from Jan. 12, 2004.

Although domestic carriers began offering flights between Taipei and Hengchun, they were frequently canceled due to katabatic winds, which are prevalent from October to April.

As no passenger flights have landed at the airport since September 2014, it has been mocked as a “breeding ground for mosquitoes.”

In 2017, the Executive Yuan accepted a Ministry of Transportation and Communications proposal to give the Pingtung County Government two years to convince international flight carriers to offer charter flights to Hengchun.

However, meetings with airline representatives from countries including Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand have all failed to produce results.

The airport is now mainly used as a training ground for drones, while Apex Flight Academy uses it for transition training.

The county wants to keep the airport open for air traffic, Pingtung County Government spokesperson Huang Chien-chia (黃建嘉) said.

The Taiwan Lantern Festival, which ended last night, has shown that the county has the potential to attract domestic and international tourists, he said, adding that Pingtung would apply for an extension for international charter flights to land at the airport.

The central government could help improve the airport’s infrastructure, including by extending the runway, Huang said.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration said that it has not received an application from the county.

It would consider lengthening the runway if there is reliable demand for flights and after it has ascertained whether there is a safety issue.

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