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Discussion Starter #1
Just when I thought they couldn't do airports decently in Taiwan (e.g. Taipei Songshan), I came across Hualien's Airport. Somewhat unconventional design for an airport, but there's no reason a domestic airport should be so much nicer than the international airports. The new terminal building opened in March 2004, though its passenger load is much, much less than Songshan. It's a small airport with 4 gates and the capacity to expand to 7 gates.


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MOTC censured for ambitious Hualien Airport expansion

The Control Yuan yesterday censured the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) for lavishly expanding one of the two airports in eastern Taiwan that has very little passenger volume.

The Control Yuan said the ministry had been “too optimistic” in its assessment of the potential passenger traffic to Hualien Airport, investing NT$2.625 billion (US$90.75 million) on an expansion project for the airport when its facility use rate was only 7 percent.

Hualien Airport fell short of its targeted revenue by an average of NT$200 million annually between 2006 and last year, while Taitung Airport failed to meet its expected annual revenues by and average of NT$100 million a year between 2002 and last year, Control Yuan member Yang Mei-lin (楊美鈴) said during a news conference.

“While investigating the operations of the two airports, it was saddening for me to find that the business revenues of the two airports every year couldn’t even cover their personnel costs,” Yang said.
Business revenues posted last year by Hualien Airport were NT$18.82 million, but its personnel costs amounted to as much as NT$65.22 million.
Meanwhile, Taitung Airport’s revenues were NT$25.32 million, compared with its personnel costs of NT$45.44 million.

Yang said when the expansion of Hualien Airport began in 2001, the operating environment of the ministry’s assessment had already changed.
Control Yuan member Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) said an improvement project for the Taiwan Railway Administration’s Eastern Line and a freeway linking Taipei and Yilan were already under way when the expansion project began, but the ministry failed to consider that those projects could cannibalize passenger traffic at the two east coast airports.
“The ministry went ahead with the expansion, but after the opening of the expanded airport, the number of tourist arrivals declined annually,” Cheng said.

Cheng said the key to whether Hualien Airport could gain a new lease on life would depend on charter flights.
He said Hualien County officials told him they had visited China to promote tourism. However, when the central government recently announced that direct cross-strait flights would increase from 370 flights to 558 flights a week, most of the increased flights went to bigger airports in western Taiwan.

“The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has the responsibility to consider the local needs and incorporate them into an overall assessment to make the use of airports in eastern Taiwan more cost-effective,” Cheng said.

Source: Taipei Times

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Dec 26, 2018
Charter flight subsidy to east coast to increase
INCENTIVES:T he Tourism Bureau is easing standards for carriers to qualify for the subsidy, as only NT$2 million of the NT$50 million budget has been used up
Taipei Times Excerpt

The Tourism Bureau yesterday said it is expanding the subsidy program for international carriers offering charter flights to Hualien and Taitung.

The program, which was launched on Jan. 9, is designed to boost international tourism to Hualien and Taitung, as the highway transport system to the east coast is often disrupted by natural disasters and train tickets are hard to come by.

The subsidy currently only covers flight carriers that offer at least two round-trip charter flights to Hualien or Taitung airport per week for a minimum of four months, the bureau said.

Although the bureau has allocated NT$50 million (US$1.62 million) for the program, only NT$2 million has been used, it said.

A number of carriers and travel agencies in Hualien and Taitung have said that the program has failed to generate more interest because of the high standards set by the bureau to qualify for the subsidy, bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said.

After discussing it with officials at the Executive Yuan’s Eastern Taiwan Joint Services Center, the bureau decided to adjust the standards set for the subsidy program, Chou said.

Instead of giving subsidies only to carriers offering charter flights on a weekly basis, starting on Jan. 9, the program would also subsidize airlines offering non-weekly charter flight services with an occupancy rate of at least 50 percent, the bureau said.

In addition, subsidies for airlines offering charter flights from Japan would be raised from NT$300,000 to NT$350,000, while those arriving from Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines and China would be raised from NT$150,000 to NT$250,000, it said.

Subsidies for charter flights from South Korea and other Southeast Asian nations would be raised from NT$250,000 to NT$300,000.

For flights whose occupancy rates exceed 50 percent, passengers on the flights would each be given a travel subsidy of NT$600, the bureau said.

To encourage foreign travelers to spend the Lunar New Year holiday on the east coast and to visit the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Pingtung next year, charter flights arriving in Taiwan before Feb. 28 would all be subsidized even with an occupancy rate of only 30 to 50 percent.

However, the subsidy would only be 40 percent of the full amount, it said.

The budget for the program next year would be unchanged at NT$50 million and is to expire on Dec. 31.
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