This week I have been in Taiwan meeting with the heads of China Airlines, EVA Air and TransAsia Airways to write a report for Airline Business magazine on the further opening of cross strait flights.
In April, a new landmark deal was signed in which, for the first time since 1949, there will be non-stop scheduled passenger and cargo flights starting in August.
CAL’s president Sun HH (seen in the picture) sums up the enthusiasm by saying: “This is what we have been working for for so many years.”
TransAsia Airways chairman Charles Chen goes further by saying the very survival of TransAsia depended on getting traffic rights to China.
But the Taiwanese carriers’ enthusiasm is capped, the same way the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan is capped.
Under the agreement, China has said it will allow 3,000 tourist arrivals a day.
Sun says from January to early March the number of tourist arrivals each day was less than 1,000 but starting in early March it rose rapidly and for April and early May it was 6-7,000. Under the scheme the number can be more than 3,000 daily if it averages out at 3,000 per day over the course of the year.
The number of tourist arrivals depends on China granting visas and the Taiwanese know China controls the lever. This means some Taiwanese are concerned.
They can see what has happened to Macau.
Macau experienced a gambling-fuelled boom up until last year but it came to an abrupt end when the Chinese Government stopped issuing as many tourist visas.
These concerns may explain why none of the Taiwanese carriers are rushing to order aircraft.