Ministry looks into changing airport charges

TOURIST INCENTIVES::The ministry hopes that low-cost carriers will boost the number of international tourists visiting the nation’s different regions and cities

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 - Page 3

Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said yesterday that different surcharges for different airports could be used as an incentive to attract more low-cost carriers (LCC) to use airports other than those in Taoyuan and Taipei.

Mao made the comment while briefing lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee on the budget plans for the Civil Aeronautics Administration for next fiscal year.

Several legislators had suggested offering more incentives to attract LCC to establish operational bases in smaller airports.

Not only could LCC boost usage rates of some of the nation’s smaller airports, they could also boost tourist numbers to different regions in the nation, lawmakers said.

However, some legislators expressed concerns that by attracting more low-cost carriers, Taiwanese flight carriers could lose their advantageous position within the domestic flight service market.

They said that it is now possible that flights from Taipei to Osaka could cost less than those from Taipei to Taitung.

In response, Mao said that airlines pay identical airport surcharges, regardless of which domestic airport they choose to land at.

He said that the ministry is considering raising the airport surcharge for Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei International Airport (Songshan Airport) and lowering that of other airports.

Currently, there are 11 LCC servicing the nation, which account for about 3 percent of market share.

Nine airlines have operational bases in Taoyuan, one at Songshan and one at Kaohsiung International Airport.

Mao said that LCC could bring more tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia, who could then travel to different regions around the country.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s ranking in an airport service quality survey rose from 36th in the second quarter to 11th in the third quarter, which marked the nation’s largest airport’s best performance in the past few years.

The airport was ranked 45th in the first quarter this year.

The airport service quality survey, administered by Airport Council International, evaluated 193 international airports around the world.

According to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Corp, the Airport was placed in the top 10 bracket for 14 of the 36 categories under evaluation.

These categories included the airport’s cleanness, price of goods sold in the airport, quality of service at airline check-in counters, and friendliness of the customs and immigration officials.

However, the airport did not fare well in the category of ground transportation service.

The airport company added that the top three airports — Incheon International Airport in South Korea, Singapore’s Changi International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport — were relatively new airports.

The fact that the airport has gradually reopened the sections of its Terminal 1, which were previously closed for renovation, has helped improve the airport’s overall impression and could account for the improved ranking this quarter, the company said.

Unlike Incheon airport, the airport does not have a train system leading to the nation’s capital at the moment.

The airport company said that it would first upgrade the airport’s bus service, adding that the parking issue has been addressed with the reopening of a parking lot at Terminal 1.