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The Taipei Airlines Association (TAA) wants the
Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)
to allow Taiwanese carriers to operate more
cross-Straits services between the island and
According to TAA chairman Tony Su,
Chinese airlines are dominating all the
routes that have been opened up, including
the three major routes to Beijing, Shanghai
and Guangzhou. "We want more flights
to the three big cities, as the rights are not
shared equally between Taiwan and Chinese
carriers," Su says.
According to the CAAC, Taiwan-based
carriers have been given rights to operate
to 31 destinations in China, but the airlines
have shunned many of the routes. The CAAC
declines to reveal how many flights a week
Chinese and Taiwanese carriers operate on
the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou routes.
Su says that the 31 routes offered by the
Chinese side offer little potential in terms of
The CAAC says of the 5.4 million people
from both sides that travelled between the
two countries last year after 31 August,
Taiwanese airlines carried 1.75 million
passengers on major routes from Mainland
China while Chinese carriers carried 1.21
million. The rest travelled by sea.
Airlines from the two countries now
operate a total of 380 flights a week.
China and Taiwan have agreed to add
another 40 flights a week by January 2011,
including tripling the existing daily service
between Taipei's Songshan Airport and
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport,
which was launched on 16 June. CAAC
director Li Jiaxiang says the number of flights
will continue to increase gradually, as more
routes are opened between the two countries.
More Chinese airlines will also gain the
right to operate on these routes, which are
currently served by seven Chinese carriers: Air
China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern
Airlines, Xiamen Airlines,
Shanghai Airlines, Hainan Airlines
and Sichuan Airlines. From the
Taiwanese side, services are
operated by: China Airlines, EVA
Airways, Mandarin Airlines, Uni
Air and TransAsia Airways.
Li says the two sides have also
agreed to reduce market fares
by 12-15 percent on all routes
to boost tourism.
Flights between China and
Taiwan stopped in 1950 in the
wake of the civil war between
the Communists and the
Kuomintang. Unofficial talks
agencies led to the start of
flights for the Lunar New Year
in 2003, via a third point like Hong Kong. In
2006, flights were extended to cover three
more festivals: Qingming, the Dragon Boat
Race and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
In July 2008, weekend charter flights were
launched, extended four months later to 108
weekly cross-Strait charter flights. The direct
services reduced flight times by almost two
thirds on some routes like Taipei-Shanghai.
In April 2009, an agreement was concluded
for scheduled flights to start in August, with
270 flights a week. This has now increased to
380 from 14 June. -- William Dennis
Taiwanese carriers seek more flights to mainland China
The AirAsia Group of low-cost airlines has
appealed to the Thai government to convert
Bangkok's old Don Muang Airport into a hub
for budget carriers.
The Group's Chief Executive Officer Tony
Fernandes says the lack of a low-cost carrier
(LCC) terminal in Bangkok is hampering
the growth of such airlines. "The high
international passenger service charge of
700 baht (US$21.9) at Bangkok's [main]
Suvarnabhumi International Airport should be
reduced to make it more attractive for tourists
to visit Thailand," Fernandes adds.
Passenger arrivals in Thailand have dropped
43 percent since the deadly political unrest
began in Bangkok in March.
"This is the time for the Thai authorities to
do something quick by turning Don Muang
into a low-cost airport and bringing back
the tourists, and at the same time doing
something for LCCs," Fernandes says.
A spokesman for government-backed
Airports of Thailand (AOT) says the agency
has no funds or plans to convert Don Muang
into a LCC Airport.
This is the second time Fernandes has
appealed to the Thai government for a low-
cost terminal or airport. Last year, he asked
AOT to build a dedicated LCC terminal at
Suvarnabhumi. This request was promptly
shot down by the Ministry of Finance, the
majority stake-holder in AOT, which is listed
on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
Earlier, in 2005, the former government of
Thaksin Shinawatra called off plans to build
an LCC terminal at Suvarnabhumi, saying
that it was not necessary and the government
did not have the funding for it, as the cost of
building the new airport had escalated.
In Malaysia, AirAsia's request to the
government to build an LCC airport in Labu,
in the state of Negri Sembilan, has also been
The AirAsia Group comprises Kuala
Lumpur based AirAsia, long-haul carrier
AirAsia X, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia
AirAsia. -- William Dennis
AirAsia seeks LCC Airport in Bangkok
China Airlines is one of five Taiwanese carriers now
operating scheduled services to mainland China.
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