Taiwan domestic flight fares to rise 10 per cent next year

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday announced that domestic flight fares will increase by an average of 10 per cent at the start of next year along with the launch of a subsidy plan for residents of outlying islands.

The CAA said that flight fares will rise by 4 per cent to 21 per cent, depending on the routes of different airlines.

CAA Deputy Director-General Fang Chih-wen said that after the domestic flight fares increase, airlines will launch early bird discount tickets, which will bring the one-way ticket from Taipei to Kinmen to less than NT$2,000 (S$86).

Several lawmakers yesterday demanded the CAA put a halt to the increase at a public hearing and they also asked airline operators to make the cost of operating domestic flight routes public.

Fang said that domestic flight fares have not been adjusted for eight years, while the fuel prices for airlines have doubled during the same period, affecting their operational costs.

"Adjusting flight fares can not only allow airline operators to replace old aircrafts with new ones but also allows them to have more flexibility in bringing more passengers to visit outlaying islands," said Fang.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), the flight fare increase for the Kinmen-Magong route will be the lowest, with about NT$56 increases for a one-way ticket while the flight fare for a one-way ticket for the Taipei-Kinmen route will be increased by NT$205 to NT$453.

TransAsia Airways said that after the flight fare has been increased, flights that are scheduled during off-peak hours will be subject to 20-40 per cent off discounts.

According to the CAA, the airline operators did not propose the plans for flight ticket adjustments, and the CAA will demand the operators not raise flight fare to the upper limit.

The CAA said that the first flight fare increase will take place next January, and that currently there is no time table for the second wave of flight fare adjustments because the CAA and the airline operators will have to monitor the market's response before deciding when to increase ticket prices again.