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Old May 20th, 2010, 08:23 PM   #441
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Taipei Mayor: Flights To Hongqiao May Start By June 14 - Report
19 May 2010

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said direct flights between Taipei Songshan Airport and Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport may start by June 14, The Economic Daily News reported Wednesday.

All flights between Taiwan and Shanghai must use Shanghai Pudong International Airport now, but congestion has limited the number of flights between the two cities to 56 a week.

Aviation regulators from Taiwan and China will meet by the end of May to discuss the Songshan-Hongqiao flights and the possibility of increasing the quota for cross-strait flights, the report cited Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration Director General Lee Long-Wen as saying.

Newspaper website: http://udn.com
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 06:08 PM   #442
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Taiwan And China To Add More Taipei-Shanghai Flights By June
23 May 2010

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Civil aviation regulators from Taiwan and China have agreed to add 28 direct passenger flights a week between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport in order to meet increasing demand for cross-straits flights, Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration said Saturday.

The new flights will begin operating before June 14, it said in a statement.

The total number of direct passenger flights between Taiwan and China, including the new Songshan-Hongqiao flights, will be increased by around 37% from the current 270. That also includes additional flights to and from Beijing, Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Fuzhou, the regulator said.

Currently all direct flights between Shanghai and Taiwan must use Shanghai's Pudong International Airport, and Taiwan has been asking China since last year to add flights to and from Hongqiao. China has capped flights to Shanghai, its most popular destination, because of the city's congested air space.

Up to 20 monthly charter flights between China and the Taiwanese cities of Taichung, Hualien, Taitung and Makung will also be opened on an irregular basis. Taiwan and China will each designate two or three carriers to fly the Songshan-Hongqiao route, it said.

China also agreed to open Nanjing, Xiamen, Fujian and Chongqing to air cargo transport services to and from Taiwan, with the number of weekly flights increasing by 20 to 48, Taiwan's regulator said. Currently, only Shanghai and Guangzhou have air cargo links with Taiwan.
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Old May 25th, 2010, 05:42 PM   #443
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Taiwan Clears China Airlines, EVA Airways To Operate New Flights
25 May 2010

TAIPEI (Dow Jones)--Taiwan's China Airlines Ltd. and EVA Airways Corp. will be allowed to operate six flights a week each between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport, the island's civil aviation regulator said Monday.

TransAsia Airways Corp. will also be allowed to operate two flights a week for the Songshan-Hongqiao route, the regulator said in a statement.

As TransAsia already operates five weekly flights between Songshan and Shanghai's Pudong International airport, it will have to switch two of these to fly between Taiwan's Taichung and Pudong instead, bringing the total number of flights it can fly between Taichung and Pudong to three a week, from one, the regulator said.

It said Saturday that Taiwan and China have agreed to add 28 direct passenger flights a week between Songshan and Hongqiao in order to meet increasing demand for cross-straits flights, and the new flights will begin operating before June 14.

Currently all direct flights between Shanghai and Taiwan must use Pudong International Airport, and Taiwan has been asking China since last year to add flights to and from Hongqiao. China has capped flights to Shanghai, its most popular destination, because of the city's congested air space.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 04:50 AM   #444
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TAIWAN, CHINA SEEKING NEW BREAKTHROUGHS IN AIR LINKS

TAIPEI, May 24 Asia Pulse - Civil aviation officials from Taiwan and China held a second day of talks in Taipei Saturday to seek new breakthroughs in air services between the two sides.

The number of cross-Taiwan Strait passenger flights currently stands at 270 per week. Air carriers have been hoping to have the number increase to 405 per week, and further to 540 at the end of this year.

There was no consensus on this issue during the first day of talks held Friday.

The two sides, however, agreed that in addition to the 31 Chinese destinations currently available, the Chinese airports Shanghai Hongqiao and Shijiazhuang will be the two new destinations open to cross-strait air services.

A main focus of Saturday's talks will be to overcome the ceilings on the number of flights allowed to be operated on four popular routes: Taiwan's cities to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shenzhen.

The maximum number of flights between Taiwan and these four Chinese cities are currently set at 28, 14, 10 and 10 per week, respectively.

According to officials from Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, cross-strait flight increases will be meaningless unless the services on these 4 routes are expanded.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 12:34 PM   #445
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Aviation rights high on agenda after Taiwan-HK council launch
26 May 2010
South China Morning Post

The Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council is inaugurated in Taipei today and will kick off with talks with its Hong Kong counterpart on aviation rights and tariff exemptions.

The planned talks, unprecedented on such an official basis between Taiwan and Hong Kong, would begin soon after the inauguration, its secretary general James Chu Shi said.

"There are many topics, such as aviation rights, which require an official channel for talks, and also the tariff issue that the Hong Kong government has raised," Chu said.

Talks on the current aviation pact, which will expire next month, have been done by Cathay Pacific Airways and the Taipei Airlines Association, because Hong Kong has avoided official contacts with Taiwan.

That has changed thanks to warming cross-strait relations that resulted in Beijing largely lifting its hands off the Hong Kong government's dealings with Taipei.

Official contacts between Taipei and Beijing have become more frequent since the mainland-friendly Ma Ying-jeou took office as president in May 2008. Last year Hong Kong and Taipei started discussing forming semi-official bodies that could represent them in mutual talks.

Hong Kong set up the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council on April 1, reciprocated by the island officially opening its counterpart today. Both councils consist of senior government officials.

Taiwan's council, Chu said, was set up within the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top mainland-policy-planning body, under which he doubles as the director of Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

He said the Taiwanese side would propose to discuss health and food safety issues, given that there were 2.86 million travellers between Taiwan and Hong Kong last year. "With such an intensive exchange of visits, there is a big concern about health."

He said it was unlikely the two sides would cut flights, despite direct air links between Taiwan and the mainland. Hong Kong used to be a median port between Taiwan and the mainland before Taiwan forged direct links in late 2008.

Chu also expressed welcome for any visit by Hong Kong's financial secretary, John Tsang Chun-wah, the honorary chairman of Hong Kong's body, who says he hopes to lead a delegation for economic talks. Chu said this could help increase official visits between the two sides.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 05:58 PM   #446
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Flights to Shanghai are nearly full until end of this month
7 June 2010
The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Directs flights to and from Shanghai are now difficult to get due to the vast increase of visitors traveling to see the Expo 2010 Shanghai, local media reported yesterday.

The popularity of the flights and the situation are expected to continue through to June 13, local reporters said.

According them local reporters, Shanghai Airlines' flights are nearly all full throughout June.

Meanwhile, even though China Eastern has swapped their Shanghai-to-Taipei flight to a 300-seat aircraft, the occupancy rate still reaches to over 90 percent, they added.

Flights traveling directly from Taipei's City Shonshan Domestic Airport to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport start flying on June 14.

The first flight will be leaving China at 10 a.m. and arriving in Taipei at 11:50 a.m.
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Old June 14th, 2010, 05:57 PM   #447
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Songshan-Hongqiao to be first served by CAL
1 June 2010
The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China Airlines (CAL) is expected to launch a direct-flight service from Taipei's Songshan Airport to Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport on the morning of June 14, according to sources at the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA).

The sources said yesterday the CAA has given a green light to CAL's application for chartered flights on the new route, although the exact times for landings and takeoffs planned by the Taipei-based air carrier still have to be approved by China's aviation authorities.

The CAL flight, which will be served by a Boeing 737-800, is slated to depart Songshan at 8:40 a.m. that day and arrive at Hongqiao in Shanghai at 10:30 a.m.

Its seats have been booked mainly by a delegation of Taipei City officials led by Mayor Hau Lung-bin and a group of lawmakers for a tour of the World Expo in Shanghai.

Taipei City sponsors the Taipei Pavilion at the world fair and legislators will make a study tour of the pavilion and Taiwan's other exhibition facilities.

China's first flight on the route, also a charter flight on June 14, will be provided by China Eastern airlines, according to aviation sources.

The chartered flights will be gradually and smoothly transformed into scheduled flight service to enhance the economic interchange between Taiwan and China's Yangtze River Delta area that has a large concentration of investors from Taiwan.

China and Taiwan agreed on May 22 to start the service between Songshan and Hongqiao with four flights each day, or 28 flights a week.

Of the 14 flights to be provided by Taiwan's air carriers each week, CAL and EVA Airways will each have six flights while Trans Asia Airways will have two.

As Shanghai's inner-city airport, the travel time between Hongqiao and Shanghai is 40 minutes less than that between Shanghai and the city's Pudong International Airport, which is already linked to Songshan with 28 flights per week.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 05:47 PM   #448
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Taipei mayor joins first direct flight to Shanghai

Taipei, June 14 (CNA) Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin said he is excited to see the bright future of direct flights between Taipei Songshan Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao Airport before boarding the first direct Taipei-Shanghai flight at 8:45 a.m. on Monday morning.

"I feel like a bird ready to come out of the cage," he said.

Scheduled to arrive at Hongqiao Airport at 10:30 a.m., Hau's team will be greeted by Shanghai Vice Mayor Shen Jun as part of the launching of a Taipei Culture Celebration campaign in the city.

Hau said the next step for Taipei is to make air connections with other Asian cities like Tokyo and Seoul. He said Taipei will benefit culturally and economically from such convenient routes.

According to China Airlines (CAL) , it will provide six direct flights a week. The company will use Boeing 737-800 carriers, each with a capacity of 158 passengers.

CAL said that once Songshan Airport finishes reconstruction this October, it will use Air Bus 330-300 carriers instead.

Bruce Huang, a 27-year-old information technology worker, said direct cross-strait flights save him a lot of time.

"Before, my colleagues had to first stop at Hong Kong and then transfer to Pudong, " he said. "The travel time that used to take all morning has been reduced to about one hour."

Two other Taiwan-based carriers, TransAsia Airways and EVA Airways, provided direct flight services Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines was the only Chinese carrier operating the route Monday.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 04:18 PM   #449
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Shanghai airfare to remain high in near term
15 June 2010
The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) will start new negotiations with Chinese aviation authorities in October to increase flights across the Taiwan Strait as consumer groups complained about the high ticket prices for the Taipei-Shanghai route.

CAA officials said Songshan Airport in Taipei will be able to increase the daily international flights to a maximum of 18 after the first-stage expansion project is completed in four months.

The daily flights can be further increased to 24, including 12 flights by larger-capacity jets in October next year to help ease the tight supply of seats on the cross-strait routes, they said.

The Taipei-based China Airlines (CAL) flew the first flight from Taipei Songshan Airport to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport yesterday morning. Two other air carriers launched the same direct flight service in the afternoon.

But the Consumers Foundation accused Taiwan's air carriers of overcharging for flights between the city airports of Taipei and Shanghai.

Foundation Chairman Hsieh Tien-jen said that round trip fares for direct flights should be no higher than NT$10,000, and he urged the CAA to cancel the operating rights of carriers that kept their fares excessively high.

A spokesman for CAL dismissed the accusation, saying the fares had been scrutinized and approved by the CAA, Taiwan's aviation regulator.

He said that airlines could not dictate fares because the rates were set only after careful negotiations with the CAA.

The carrier stressed that the fares charged for nonstop flights between the city airports íX roughly NT$14,000-NT$17,000 íX were similar to those between the more commonly used international gateways of Taoyuan International Airport and Pudong International Airport.

CAL also noted that to celebrate the new route, it has launched promotions offering 10 percent discounts on tickets used by the end of June.

Spicer Lee, a spokesman for the Taipei Association of Travel Agents, said, however, that ticket prices for nonstop flights between Taiwan and China are not likely to fall by the end of this year because there is still a shortage of capacity.

íºBesides, we have to take the (ongoing) Shanghai World Expo into consideration,í¿ he said.

There are currently 370 nonstop flights across the Taiwan Strait every week, but Lee said at least 700 per week are needed to meet the strong demand, a target he did not think would be met by the end of this year.

Still, Lee believed that the current fares íºare a little bit too expensive.í¿

An information technology worker, who took yesterday's first flight to Hongqiao Airport from Taipei, said he was satisfied with the price he paid.

The NT$17,000 round-trip ticket he bought one week ago for the flight was íºquite fairí¿ in his opinion.

íºBefore, my colleagues had to first stop in Hong Kong and then transfer to Pudong (Airport),í¿ he said. íºThe travel time that used to take all morning can be reduced to about one hour on a single trip as it is today.í¿

Several other passengers said they were glad to have the new choice of taking the Songshan-Hongqiao route. It is more crucial for businesspeople who will be able to accomplish much more as compared with the flights to Pudong which force them to leave home or office three to four hours earlier for fearing of traffic congestion, they said.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 06:31 PM   #450
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Cross-strait trips will cost lot less
The Standard
Monday, June 21, 2010

Beijing plans to cut air fares between the mainland and Taiwan by as much as 15 percent to boost cross-strait ties.

Analysts say such a move might trigger a price war among carriers - including Cathay Pacific (0293) - that serve the region.

Li Jiaxiang, director general of the General Administration of Civil Aviation, told a Xiamen conference yesterday that the price cut could be in the range of 10-15 percent, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

A final decision is to be reached after further talks with carriers, and Li did not offer thoughts on when lower fares could take effect.

China Eastern Airlines (0670) and Cathay Pacific stand to be the carriers affected most by a price cut, experts say.

And cross-strait travelers could decide to cancel any plans to fly via Hong Kong if direct fares are reduced.

"CEA and Cathay operate many international routes, so the impact on those two is likely to be greater than China Southern Airlines [1055], which focuses on domestic flights," said Kenny Tang Sing-hing, head of research at Redford Securities.

Tang noted that cheaper fares could lead to lower earnings for the two carriers, "but this can be offset by an increase in passengers and flights." On that, he pointed to the possibility of a price war as airlines chase passengers.

The head of equity markets at Delta Asia Financial, Conita Hung Lai-ping, said lower fares will be positive and boost the number of cross-strait tourists.

"The cross-strait economic relation will also be strengthened as a result," she added.

Beijing plans four new airports along the western coastal area of the Taiwan Strait - called Haixi - over the next five years to accommodate more flights across the strait.

That Beijing intended to increase the number of flights was among the points Li raised in Xiamen.

Beijing and Taipei have already signed a deal for a 10.5 increase in the number of flights, taking the number to 420 a week from the present 380.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 06:50 AM   #451
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HK airlines face price war on Taiwan route
Cathay, Dragonair under pressure after mainland orders 15pc cut in cross-strait fares

26 June 2010
South China Morning Post

Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong Dragon Airlines (Dragonair) face a bruising price war on the lucrative Hong Kong-Taiwan route after mainland carriers were ordered to cut cross-strait ticket prices.

Li Jiaxiang, the minister in charge of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said last week fares for direct flights should be lowered by up to 15 per cent as part of a move to increase cross-strait transport ties.

Direct flight services between the mainland and the island have increased to 380 flights per week after being launched two years ago, and 40 will be added shortly. The governments on both sides of the strait are committed to more direct flights as economic ties improve.

"Air fares on routes to Taiwan will be under pressure in the short term," said James Tong, Dragonair's chief executive, at the carrier's 25th anniversary celebration. "But ticket prices and demand will be stable over the longer term as total traffic demand becomes enlarged."

A Cathay spokesman said the airlines would ensure its fares remained competitive. "Air fares are determined by market supply and demand," the spokesman added.

Air service capacity between Hong Kong and Taiwan has dropped 30 per cent since the start of direct flights in July 2008, said Law Cheung-kwok, an associate director of the Aviation Policy & Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"It's easier said than done [for Hong Kong carriers] to cash in on additional market demand driven by direct flights," Law said. "Hong Kong carriers can only benefit from the increasing number of locals visiting Taiwan due to the simplified visa application to Taiwan but not the other way round."

The Hong Kong-Taipei route is served by Cathay, Dragonair, China Airlines and Eva Air, which respectively operate 12, four, 12 and seven flights per day. The Hong Kong-Kaohsiung route is operated by Dragonair, China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines, with seven to eight flights per day among them.

However, shorter flight and transit times have made direct flights the natural winner over the traditional transit through Hong Kong.

Dragonair and Cathay were now lobbying the Shanghai government to let them land at Hongqiao Airport, which is closer to the city's centre than the Pudong International Airport, Tong said.

They will study the infrastructure and capacity of Hongqiao and discuss with the Civil Aviation Administration of China about flight plans.

China Airlines' debut flight to Hongqiao from the Taipei Songshan Airport on June 13 has put pressure on the Hong Kong carriers to improve their services.

The 45-minute direct flight accompanied by easier connections to Shanghai's city centre makes the triangular route served by Hong Kong carriers less attractive. The transit time to Hongqiao is about one hour shorter than that to Pudong.

Dragonair saw the passenger volume on the Hong Kong-Shanghai route increase 40 per cent last month from May last year because of the World Expo and the lower comparative base. The carrier has deployed larger aircraft - an Airbus 330, against an A320 previously - to serve the route, resulting in a 10 to 20 per cent increase in capacity.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 12:48 PM   #452
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Demand Strains Cross-Strait Flight Capacity
28 June 2010
Taiwan Economic News

Ever since the launch of direct flights in 2008, airplanes from Taiwan and China have been flying across the Taiwan Strait packed with passengers, and the passengers have been complaining about insufficient capacity (despite increased frequencies) and high ticket prices.

The situation is most serious for such hot routes as those connecting Taiwan with Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen. Passengers have to book at least two weeks in advance for a flight from Taipei to Shanghai, for instance, despite the launching on June 14 of 28 weekly direct flights from Taipei's Songshan Airport to Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. This is on top of the original 56 flights per week between Songshan Airport and Shanghai's Pudong Airport.

The new flight service offers much greater convenience, since Hongqiao is only 13 kilometers from downtown Shanghai; passengers who arrive at Pudong, by contrast, have to travel about an hour to get into the city. Passengers complain that round-trip ticket prices are exorbitant, however, costing NT$17,000 (US$531 at NT$32:US$1), although flying time is only 90 minutes, similar to the flight time from Taipei to Hong Kong, which costs only half the price. The cost of a direct flight is also higher than the NT$15,000 (US$469) price of tickets for indirect Taipei-Shanghai trips that require two flights and transit Hong Kong or Macao.

One major reason for the high ticket prices is a gross insufficiency of flight capacity between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait despite the recent addition of 100 weekly flights, 50 from each side, which has boosted the total number to 370. (Taiwan originally asked to double the number of flights.) The number of weekly flights between China and Korea, by contrast, stands at 800.

Insiders note that the Chinese government has deliberately slowed down capacity increases, mainly in response to requests from the Hong Kong government, in order to alleviate the impact on Hong Kong's airport. Already the number of round-trip flights from Hong Kong to Shanghai has dropped to a dozen a day, compared with over 30 before the inauguration of direct cross-strait flights.

Delegates from Taiwan and mainland China are scheduled to meet in October to discuss further increases in flight frequencies.

To meet the huge demand on the bustling Taipei-Shanghai route, Songshan Airport is undergoing major renovation work, scheduled for completion in October, which will enable it to accommodate Airbus A330 jetliners capable of carrying 250-280 passengers. Aircraft that service the route at present, such as the Boeing 737, can hold only about 150 passengers.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 07:17 PM   #453
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Demand Strains Cross-Strait Flight Capacity
28 June 2010
Taiwan Economic News

...

Insiders note that the Chinese government has deliberately slowed down capacity increases, mainly in response to requests from the Hong Kong government, in order to alleviate the impact on Hong Kong's airport. Already the number of round-trip flights from Hong Kong to Shanghai has dropped to a dozen a day, compared with over 30 before the inauguration of direct cross-strait flights.

...

The "insider" intervention part is probable, but then Taiwan Economic News is probably operating like tabloids in this case. There will be more than TWO DOZENS of flights from Shanghai arriving at HKIA tomorrow. It is amazing that Taiwan Economic News did not bother to check the weekly available seats in the Taiwan - Shanghai and Hong Kong - Shanghai markets when it is obvious that the reporter has done quite a bit of researching.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 08:47 PM   #454
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aab7772003 View Post
The "insider" intervention part is probable, but then Taiwan Economic News is probably operating like tabloids in this case. There will be more than TWO DOZENS of flights from Shanghai arriving at HKIA tomorrow. It is amazing that Taiwan Economic News did not bother to check the weekly available seats in the Taiwan - Shanghai and Hong Kong - Shanghai markets when it is obvious that the reporter has done quite a bit of researching.
Hong Kong had 27 arrivals yesterday from Shanghai.
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Old July 5th, 2010, 06:05 PM   #455
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Demand Strains Cross-Strait Flight Capacity
28 June 2010
Taiwan Economic News

Ever since the launch of direct flights in 2008, airplanes from Taiwan and China have been flying across the Taiwan Strait packed with passengers, and the passengers have been complaining about insufficient capacity (despite increased frequencies) and high ticket prices.

The situation is most serious for such hot routes as those connecting Taiwan with Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen. Passengers have to book at least two weeks in advance for a flight from Taipei to Shanghai, for instance, despite the launching on June 14 of 28 weekly direct flights from Taipei's Songshan Airport to Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. This is on top of the original 56 flights per week between Songshan Airport and Shanghai's Pudong Airport.

The new flight service offers much greater convenience, since Hongqiao is only 13 kilometers from downtown Shanghai; passengers who arrive at Pudong, by contrast, have to travel about an hour to get into the city. Passengers complain that round-trip ticket prices are exorbitant, however, costing NT$17,000 (US$531 at NT$32:US$1), although flying time is only 90 minutes, similar to the flight time from Taipei to Hong Kong, which costs only half the price. The cost of a direct flight is also higher than the NT$15,000 (US$469) price of tickets for indirect Taipei-Shanghai trips that require two flights and transit Hong Kong or Macao.

One major reason for the high ticket prices is a gross insufficiency of flight capacity between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait despite the recent addition of 100 weekly flights, 50 from each side, which has boosted the total number to 370. (Taiwan originally asked to double the number of flights.) The number of weekly flights between China and Korea, by contrast, stands at 800.

Insiders note that the Chinese government has deliberately slowed down capacity increases, mainly in response to requests from the Hong Kong government, in order to alleviate the impact on Hong Kong's airport. Already the number of round-trip flights from Hong Kong to Shanghai has dropped to a dozen a day, compared with over 30 before the inauguration of direct cross-strait flights.

Delegates from Taiwan and mainland China are scheduled to meet in October to discuss further increases in flight frequencies.

To meet the huge demand on the bustling Taipei-Shanghai route, Songshan Airport is undergoing major renovation work, scheduled for completion in October, which will enable it to accommodate Airbus A330 jetliners capable of carrying 250-280 passengers. Aircraft that service the route at present, such as the Boeing 737, can hold only about 150 passengers.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 06:51 PM   #456
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Xiamen Airlines increases direct flights, cuts fares
6 July 2010
SCMP

Xiamen Airlines has fired the opening salvo in what promises to be a bruising price war on increasingly lucrative flights between the mainland and Taiwan, a battle that can hurt Hong Kong carriers.

More airlines are expected to follow the medium-sized airline based in Fujian, the closest province to the Taiwan Strait, after the Civil Aviation Administration of China ordered airlines to lower airfares by 10 to 15 per cent last month.

Xiamen Airlines will beef up its direct cross-strait flights from Xiamen and Fuzhou from 11 to 29 weekly and lower airfares by one-third from tomorrow in a bid to build a connecting hub between the mainland and Taiwan.

Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong Dragon Airlines have been nervously watching the expansion of direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan.

Political tensions between Beijing and Taipei meant cross-strait flights used to be routed through Hong Kong, making it one of the most lucrative short-haul flights in the world.

Hong Kong International Airport said it lost 7 per cent of total passengers to direct flights last year.

The market will be even bigger if Beijing further relaxes the restrictions by allowing Chinese individuals to travel to Taiwan rather than just in groups, said Hu Bin, a general manager of the passenger marketing department at Xiamen Airlines.

The carrier cut fares to as low as 1,000 yuan (HK$1,149) for a round trip to Taipei from 1,500 yuan and will increase direct weekly flights to 29 from tomorrow. The round-trip ticket from Taipei to Fujian was priced even lower at 850 yuan, Hu said.

Lower direct flight fares would have a negative impact on the ticket prices between Hong Kong and Taiwan, Dragonair chief executive James Tong said last month.

Daiwa Capital Markets transport analyst Kelvin Lau said: "Other mainland and Taiwanese airlines will follow as it is a government-driven fare reduction."

The impact to Taiwanese carriers will be the most as the percentage of direct flights to their total sales is higher than that of mainland carriers.

"Because the domestic and international terminals at Xiamen airport are closer together, we edge out Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou as a connecting hub in terms of transit time," Hu said. "Passengers arriving in Xiamen and Fuzhou do not need to walk half an hour from one terminal to another to catch the transiting flights as in the three busiest mainland airports."

Flight times between Fujian and Taiwan could be halved once the two governments agree to direct flight paths. Currently, flights taking off from Xiamen cannot fly directly to destinations in Taiwan because of military restrictions on airspace in the region, meaning a flight that should take only 40 minutes actually takes 90 minutes.

"The flight time could be reduced to 40 minutes if we can fly directly to Taipei," Hu said.

Fujian is heavily armed because of decades-long political tensions between the mainland and Taiwan.

A lack of landing slots at major airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou helped Xiamen Airlines secure 18 of the 50 extra direct flight quotas doled out to mainland carriers in May. The carrier will have 18 extra direct flights from tomorrow, including one daily flight to Taipei from Xiamen and Fuzhou each.

Xiamen and Fuzhou are among the most popular mainland destinations for direct flights.

The percentage of seats sold by Xiamen Airlines on direct flights stood at 88 per cent, 13 percentage points above the industry average, Hu said.

After the reduction in airfares, the margin for direct flights will be about the same as for domestic flights, he said. However, the increase in passenger demand will offset the fall in margin per ticket.

"If the two governments further liberalise air traffic, the direct flight traffic can reach 10 million passengers a year," Hu said.

The estimate was computed on the tourist numbers between the mainland and Taiwan through Hong Kong or Macau before direct flights began in July 2008, he said.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 05:14 PM   #457
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Cathay faces bumpy ride as cash cow is blown off course
13 July 2010
SCMP

There may not have been a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but for Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways the flight path to Taiwan was certainly paved in dollars.

The start of direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan two years ago put an end to Cathay's dream run and has marked a rethink of how the carrier will battle rising competition in its own backyard.

Few routes have earned more cash for Cathay due to the short flight time and healthy margin on fares. The 100-minute flight from Hong Kong to Taipei costs HK$1,770 in economy on Cathay and Dragonair, compared with HK$7,260 for a 10-hour flight to London, according to online travel agency Zuji.

The route contributed about 14 per cent of Cathay's total sales eight years ago, one transport analyst said. That has been whittled down to 8 per cent in recent times as the carrier, anticipating direct flights, diversified its international destinations and tried to rely less on the island.

Hong Kong carriers have bought time because of the extra demand for flights due to the Shanghai expo. But when the world fair ends and more direct flight services come on stream the real impact will be felt. "The expo has stimulated more cross-strait travel, which has spilled over to Hong Kong as there are not enough direct flights," the analyst said.

The political tension between Beijing and Taipei has been a cash cow for Hong Kong and Macau carriers as passengers travelling to either destination were forced to travel through a third party territory.

Hong Kong International Airport lost 7 per cent of passengers to direct link flights last year but the impact was offset by the increase in other international passengers.

Analysts say Cathay and Dragonair will face a tougher challenge as soon as next year. Cathay's rivals have been quick to recognise the profit potential of direct links.

Although the number of direct flights has been lifted to 380 a week at present from just 18 in July 2008, the frequency is still significantly below actual demand.

Lo Chia-chuan, chairman of the Nancheng Division of the Taiwan Businessmen Association of Dongguan, said half the businesspeople transiting via Hong Kong to Dongguan were reluctant to do so.

"Some 30 per cent of the Taiwanese in Dongguan will skip Hong Kong when there are enough direct flight services between Shenzhen and Taiwan," he warned. Dongguan is one of the most popular cities for Taiwanese entrepreneurs, with more than 6,000 Taiwanese companies in operation and 100,000 Taiwanese residents. About 60 per cent of the Taiwanese residents in Dongguan still go via Hong Kong due to lower airfares and more frequent flights from the city, he said.

There are just eight weekly flights operated by China Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines between Shenzhen and Taiwan. By contrast Cathay, Dragonair, China Airlines and Eva operate more than 34 daily flights between Hong Kong and Taipei and eight daily flights to Kaohsiung. Hong Kong Airlines and Mandarin Airlines fly between Hong Kong and Taichung five times a day.

Surging demand has jacked up fares on the direct routes. The 100-minute direct flight between Shenzhen and Taipei by China Airlines costs around 3,100 yuan (HK$3,559) in business class and 2,000 yuan for economy. Still, seats are highly sought after by Taiwanese. "You literally cannot get a ticket unless you have a special relationship with the airlines," Lo said.

Hu Bin, general manager of passenger marketing at Xiamen Airlines, said direct flights were hugely underserved at present. He said demand for direct flights could exceed 10 million passengers a year if there were enough flight quotas issued. About 1.6 million passengers flew on direct flights in the first year of operations, followed by 3.6 million passengers from August 31 last year to May 31.

Some 30 per cent of Taiwanese passengers who used to go to the Pearl River Delta via Hong Kong have skipped the city since direct flight services started two years ago, a cross-border transportation company said.

Guangdong is one of the most popular places for Taiwanese to set up factories on the mainland due to the large pool of skilled workers and good transport links.

Trans-Island Chinalink, previously called Gogo Bus, connects passengers from Hong Kong International Airport directly to various points in the Pearl River Delta and has witnessed the rise and fall of the transiting passengers from Taiwan over the years.

The company, founded in 1998, conveyed 50,000 to 60,000 passengers a month in 2006, of which 85 per cent were Taiwanese businesspeople who needed to leave their offices in Taiwan before lunch and arrive at their mainland factories in the evening. "After direct flights were implemented, passenger numbers have shrunk by 30 to 40 per cent," said a source from Trans-Island.

The relocation of factories to the Yangtze River Delta from the Pearl River Delta as well as competition from Skypier, a cross-border ferry service at Chek Lap Kok, have also contributed to the fall in numbers. But the most critical factor has been direct flights. The company has given up using shuttle buses that can carry at least 40 people and deployed luxury vans, which only seat about seven but are cheaper to operate.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 05:10 PM   #458
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Tension rises as China-Taiwan flight pact hits bumps

TAIPEI, July 21 (Reuters) - China and Taiwan face a widening dispute over scheduling of direct flights, an important factor behind $100 billion in two-way trade, raising tension between old foes just weeks after they signed a massive trade pact.

The Taiwan civil aviation authority said it would reconsider permits for Chinese carriers that cover some of the 370 flights launched between the two sides since 2008 on the back of improved political ties.

China, it said, has pushed Taiwan airlines into low-margin red-eye time slots.

Beijing criticised Taiwan's reaction, Taiwan's semi-official Central News Agency reported, saying the island's carriers had left out routes key to China's development.

Taiwan's top two carriers China Airlines and Eva Airways saw their shares fall this week because of the dispute, analysts said.

The flap could cool a climate of goodwill associated with most China-Taiwan deals including a free trade-style pact signed in June, the biggest tie-up ever between economic powerhouse China and tech-reliant Taiwan.

"My sense is that with more trade, more disputes," said Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei. "That's a reality and will happen again. Law enforcement and legal practise are different on each side."

But the dispute is unlikely to plunge relations back to pre-2008 levels when the two sides seldom talked as China openly asserted sovereignty over the self-ruled island.

Both value the flight pact that has led thousands of Chinese tourists to visit the island and made it easier for Taiwan investors to reach markets and factories on the other side.

Taiwan and China, which had barred all direct flights until 2005 on security concerns despite a distance of just 160 km (99 miles), agreed in May to add the latest 100 passenger flights as trade and tourism were picking up.
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Old July 25th, 2010, 05:48 PM   #459
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Aviation impasse must be resolved
24 July 2010
The China Post

Ever since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, both sides of the Taiwan Strait have conducted several rounds of negotiations that have vastly increased direct cross-strait trade and transportation links.

For a while, it seemed as though Taipei and Beijing were able to overcome just about anything as long as they sidestepped sensitive political issues and focused on practical matters involved with boosting economic, cultural and tourism exchanges.

But inevitably, the warm atmosphere across the Taiwan Strait has finally started to cool and problems are cropping up.

The latest problem to emerge could cause severe harm to the warming atmosphere of cross-strait relations by inconveniencing cross-strait travelers, including businesspeople and tourists who have been driving our economic recovery.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, an impasse over the wording of a recent agreement aimed at increasing the frequency of cross-strait flights might result in cancellation of several new flight services between points in Taiwan and mainland China.

Both sides agree that the agreement signed in May would increase the number of weekly cross-strait flights from 270 to 370.

But Beijing insists that Taipei promised that at least 20 of these weekly flight services would connect points in Taiwan with Fuzhou and Xiamen, the two major airports serving Fujian province directly across the Taiwan Strait.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications here has said that it believed the minimum of 20 flights to Fuzhou and Xiamen would be taken out of all 370 weekly flights, rather than the 100 new flight services.

When our side asked Beijing to open talks on this sticking point, it indicated it preferred to wait until the next scheduled round of negotiations in October rather than meeting immediately to resolve the impasse.

If something cannot be done to resolve this question before both sides meet in October, several new flight services that recently just opened, as well as new services expected to start soon, will be canceled, causing major headaches for cross-strait travelers.

The cancellations would be most common for cities like Taichung and Kaohsiung, which have recently benefited from newly opened cross-strait flights that have brought about great convenience for businesspeople traveling from these areas.

Both sides would be wise to quietly get the aviation discussions rolling again before flights have to start being canceled.

Our side has complained that while Beijing has been open to permitting requests to open new services to points ranging from Beijing to Zhengzhou, the mainland side has tried to make Taiwanese airlines use unpopular time slots such as early mornings and the middle of the night, rather than times that would be widely used by travelers on both sides.
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Old July 31st, 2010, 05:27 PM   #460
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Taiwan, China agree to work to settle dispute over new cross-Strait flights
26 July 2010

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan and China have agreed to reopen negotiations to try to settle their dispute over the destination of new flights across the 100-mile (160-kilometer-) wide Taiwan Strait, a Taiwanese official has said.

Talks will reopen in a week or two, Taiwan's Deputy Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih told a late Sunday news conference.

The two sides agreed in May to increase the number of weekly cross-strait flights from 270 to 370, without identifying the destinations for all of the new flights.

When China insisted this month that 20 of them would be from Taiwan to the southern cities of Xiamen and Fuzhou, and that many would take off late at night, Taiwan officials balked, saying they preferred that the new services should be to high demand cities like Shanghai, and at more convenient times.

Beijing had initially refused to reopen negotiations, apparently hoping the Xiamen and Fuzhou flights could help funnel business travelers to a new industrial zone in the area.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949 and Beijing still claims the island as part of its territory.

Since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took office two years ago, ties between the sides have strengthened substantially, and longstanding tensions have begun to diminish.
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