Thu, Aug 22, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Low-cost airlines boost visitor numbers by 16%

REGIONAL LINKS:Twenty-three airlines offering 61 flights serviced 7.06 million people in the first seven months, accounting for 20% of all international fliers

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

AirAsia X Berhad CEO Benyamin Ismail on Tuesday stands in front of a banner in Taipei proclaiming the 10th anniversary of the budget airline’s services to and from Taiwan.

Photo: Chuang Shih-hsien, Taipei Times

A rapid growth in low-cost flights to Taiwan has helped raise the number of arrivals by nearly 16 percent in the first seven months of this year, compared with the same period last year, the Civil Aeronautics Administration said on Tuesday.

Last year, 10.63 million people flew into or out of Taiwan on budget airlines, the first time that the number surpassed 10 million, the agency said.

The nation is serviced by 23 budget airlines, including one that started offering flights to Taiwan this year, it added.

They operate 61 flights between Taiwan and East and Southeast Asia, it said.

From January to last month, the number of budget airline passengers reached 7.06 million, a 15.6 percent year-on-year increase, it said.

Budget airline passengers accounted for about 20 percent of all international and cross-strait fliers during the period, the agency added.

The first low-cost carrier to offer services to Taiwan was Singapore-based Jetstar Asia Airways, which launched a service between Taipei and Singapore in December 2004.

It was followed by Cebu Pacific Air of the Philippines in 2007 and Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia in July 2009.

Tigerair Taiwan dominates the budget market with a 23.2 percent market share, followed by Singapore-based Scoot Tigerair, which claims 11.26 percent, statistics showed.

The Osaka, Japan-based Peach Aviation was third with 9.12 percent, followed by Hanoi-based VietJet Air (8.16 percent), Osaka-based Vanilla Air (6.64 percent) and AirAsia (5.08 percent), the agency added.

In related news, AirAsia on Tuesday celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of its Taipei service.

With 13 direct flights to Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand from Taipei and Kaohsiung, the budget airline has serviced more than 6.6 million passengers since 2009, it said.

Average occupancy of the flights was 85.7 percent in the first half of this year, it said, adding that passengers to and from Taiwan could exceed 1.8 million this year.

Asked why is has not created a Taiwanese spinoff, given the significant growth in the market, AirAsia X Berhad CEO Benyamin Ismail told a news conference in Taipei that the key lies in finding local partners with similarly progressive business mindsets.

“We would explore this opportunity in any market, but the difficulty of setting up a joint venture is to try to find the right partner. If we can find a right partner, it would be great,” he said, adding that the company sees potential for a spinoff in Taiwan, Vietnam or China.

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