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Taipei Taoyuan airport keen to attract new routes

Despite passenger growth slowing last year, Taipei Taoyuan International airport is confident that new generation aircraft and changes in diplomatic relations will help it to attract new routes.

Five new carriers began Taipei services in 2018, opening up four new international destinations, says the airport's executive for business planning and marketing Emily Yang in a recent interview with FlightGlobal.

Destinations launched last year include Auckland by Air New Zealand, Chiang Mai by Thai AirAsia, Brunei's capital Bandar Seri Begawan by Royal Brunei Airlines, and Kitakyushu by Japan's StarFlyer. Air France was the fifth carrier to launch services to Taipei, linking it to Paris.

Those helped its passenger traffic to grow 3.7% to over 46 million, which is a slightly lower growth rate than previous years. Yang attributes that to infrastructure constraints, as the airport is operating well above its design capacity of 37 million passengers.

Helping the airport to boost passenger traffic includes the use of newer generation of aircraft. Yang points out that China Airlines is now operating nonstop services to Europe with Airbus A350s, while EVA Air is able to launch new nonstop services with Boeing 787s.

At the same time, the use of A320neos and 737 Max jets mean that short-haul carriers can now operate flights longer than five hours in duration.

Asked if the airport had seen an impact from Taiwan government's “New Southbound Policy”, which aims to enhance cooperation and exchanges between the island and 18 Asia-Pacific countries, Yang says 2018 traffic to Southeast Asia had grown by at least 8%, while that to the Oceania region had seen 36% growth.

While the airport is linked to 53 destinations in mainland China, says Yang, Taoyuan is still keen to secure links to secondary cities and win more international services. It identified markets such as Australia, Europe, and India as the key targets.

For India, the airport has approached IndiGo and SpiceJet to consider serving Taipei. It is also encouraging EVA Air to start India flights as it could tap into fellow Star Alliance carrier Air India’s domestic network.

The infrastructure constraints at the airport will continue in the short-term, with plans to open a third terminal recently pushed back from 2022 to 2024. In the longer term, it will consider building a satellite terminal to complement the main terminal building, adds Yang.

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