Kaohsiung airport could become budget airline hub

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Jul 14, 2016 - Page 5

Two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers representing Kaohsiung constituencies have urged the government to transform the Kaohsiung International Airport into a hub for budget airlines.

According to a proposal by DPP legislators Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) and Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), the airport could become a base for tourists from Southeast Asia.

Lee said that to help the airport accommodate more budget carriers, the government should cut landing fees for low-cost airlines, which would likely encourage more airlines to fly into the nation’s second-largest city.

Seven budget airlines — Tigerair Taiwan, Vanilla Air, Scoot, AirAsia, Peach, Air Busan and Spring Airlines — provide 98 flights to and from the airport each week.

The airport said that budget carriers using A320 aircraft get a 10 percent discount on the base landing fee of NT$12,000 on existing flights.

If a carrier were to launch a route to a new international destination, the flights on the new service are eligible for further discounts on landing fees in the first year.

In the second year, if the carrier adds more flights to the route, the added flights are eligible for the same discounts as first year discounts.

Lee and Chiu made their plea after visiting the airport on Monday.

They also spoke with Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Frank Fan (范植谷) and Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Hsu Li-ming (許立明).

Lee said that he has sought funding from the government to improve the airport, including repairs to the runway, departure lobby expansion and efforts to improve the landing system, adding that on his request the number of check-in counters at the airport has been increased from 80 to 88.

Lee said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications should also streamline visa applications and provide incentives to encourage more chartered flights to Kaohsiung, especially from Southeast Asian countries, while the government should map out Muslim-friendly routes to attract as many Southeast Asian travelers as possible.

Chartered flights to Kaohsiung are largely from China, Japan and South Korea, Lee said.

He said that the government should seek to attract charters from Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Brunei, adding that Indian tourists should also be targeted.