Airlines providing international flight services in Taiwan plan to increase the number of international flights to 1,107 per week by the end of this year after the nation last week reopened its borders, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
Under the new policy, international arrivals are exempted from mandatory quarantine and are only required to observe disease-prevention measures for seven days. However, the number of inbound travelers remains capped at 150,000 per week.
“We have spoken with the Central Epidemic Command Center head Victor Wang (王必勝) about the possibility of raising the cap on inbound travelers. The details have yet to be finalized,” Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee.
Photo by Cheng Ming-hsiang, Taipei Times
Despite the relaxation, only about 61,000 international travelers are expected to enter Taiwan this week as airlines and airports in many countries reported worker shortages, causing many airlines to reduce or merge flights, Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Lin Kuo-hsien (林國顯) said.
Nevertheless, international carriers in Taiwan are planning to offer 1,107 flights per week by the end of this year, which is about 40 percent of the average weekly flights in 2019.
The number of flights to Japan would be tripled to 312 per week from 104 weekly flights after the East Asian nation — a popular tourist destination for Taiwanese — relaxed its border control policy last week, Lin said, adding that it is the largest increase among all international flights.
The second-largest increase would be flights to Southeast Asian nations — from 248 to 383 per week, he said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan’s international flight passengers fell to 8.78 million in 2020 and 1.01 million last year, or 15 percent and 2 percent respectively of the international passenger volume in 2019, Lin said.
The International Air Transportation Association expect global passenger volume would not return to 2019 levels until 2024, he added.
The CAA forecast that Taiwan’s international flight passenger volume would reach 5.95 million this year and 23.97 million next year, which would be about 10 percent and 40 percent of the 2019 figures.
“However, given that countries’ border control policies differ and some airports have yet to return to full service capacity, the recovery of international passenger volume is contingent upon the subsequent development of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery of the airline industry around the world,” the CAA told the Transportation Committee.
Taiwan has civil aviation pacts with 57 countries and territories, it said, adding that it is expanding the civil aviation network by negotiating over aviation pacts with more countries.
Flight services to several cities have resumed, including Japan’s Sendai, Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu, the Philippines’ Boracay Island and Puerto Princesa, Vietnam’s Da Nang and South Korea’s Gimpo, Busan and Jeju, it said.
New flight services to Milan and Munich are to be launch on Tuesday next week and Nov. 3, respectively, it said
Air Macau, Thai Smile Airways, AirAsia X and AirAsia are planning to resume services in Taiwan next month or in December, it said, adding that other airlines have indicated their intention to resume flights later this year or early next year.
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