Taiwan has agreed to a significant increase in flights between its territory and Macau but talks with Hong Kong on a new five-year agreement for air services have failed to get off the ground.

Macau is competing with Hong Kong to handle more passengers travelling between Taiwan and mainland China. Its agreement with Taiwan to increase flights by 30% is a key part of its game-plan.

Flight frequencies between Taiwan and Hong Kong have not increased for five years, capping services at 121 per week for airlines from each side. The Hong Kong-Taiwan accord expired on 12 June but was extended in its old form until the end of the year.

The Taipei-Hong Kong route is popular because there are no direct services allowed between mainland China and Taiwan. Hong Kong was used as the transit point by virtually all travellers from Taiwan until 1995 when Macau opened its international airport.

The new five-year "commercial agreement" between Macau and Taiwan allows for up to 36,200 passengers to be carried between the two territories per week, up from the current 28,200. Air Macau, EVA Airways and TransAsia Airlines all operate Macau-Taiwan services.

Airlines from Hong Kong and Taiwan have failed even to start proper negotiations. Taiwanese authorities want government or quasi-official bodies to negotiate a new five-year pact but Beijing has refused, instead demanding that airlines continue doing so.

Source: Flight International