TransAsia to keep full-service model despite LCC appeal

Singapore
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TransAsia Airways will focus on its business as a premium full-service carrier, despite rising competition from low-cost carriers.

"Sure, we looked at starting our own LCC, but we have a nice niche here as a carrier between the low-cost and big network carrier," says Andrew Stephen, its general manager of Southeast Asia, in an interview with Flightglobal Pro. "So we decided to carry on doing what we're good at. Why change an operating model that is successful?"

The carrier's chairman Vincent Lin had last year proposed that the nation's three listed carriers - TransAsia, Eva Air and China Airlines - form a joint venture LCC.

Lin adds that Taiwan has not benefitted from the low-cost business because of the lack of a homegrown LCC. Meanwhile, foreign LCCs have stepped in over the past few years to claim the pie.

The proposal was, however, largely seen as impractical as it would mean the competing carriers would have to work together in the same market. China Airlines for one, has said that it has formed a "special team" to evaluate the feasibility of launching an LCC on its own.

The budget carriers, however, have helped to stimulate the market, increasing the number of return travellers, says Stephen.

"Some people are choosing to fly with the LCCs, but the carriers have also created a new market where a lot of people come back again and again, so in terms of revenue impact, it probably evens itself out," he adds.

Nonetheless, he believes the country still needs an LCC of its own.

"Taiwan is increasingly becoming an LCC market because the other guys are educating the markets how to fly LCCs. Any country should respond to that; it's better late than never," says Stephen.