EVA Air chair blasts airport project
By Joy Lee ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- EVA Air (長榮航空) Chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) criticized the government's ongoing Taoyuan Aerotropolis project as an “empty promise,” according to reports yesterday.
March 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Chang said that EVA Air will not be part of the project; it will instead choose another location to invest and build aeronautic infrastructure in, he said in an interview about the project, which the government has already invested NT$500 billion in.
More and more direct flights between cities in Taiwan and mainland China have been secured, but the government has not fought for the lucrative opportunity of having Chinese tourists transfer flights locally, said Chang, who was selected as the new chairman of EVA Air two months ago.
“It will only cost Taiwan's airline operators more money for them to add more direct air routes between Taiwan and China,” Chang said, “and South Korea and Hong Kong will replace Taiwan as a Asia-Pacific Regional Operations Center (APROC).”
According to Chang, Taiwan has the potential to become an APROC as it has a large number of direct flights to major cities. Chinese tourists can travel to Taiwan via direct flights, and should be able to transfer to international flights to Europe and America.
Chang, however, said that Chinese tourists are not currently permitted to transfer in Taiwan due to mainland Chinese regulations, severely hurting Taiwan's chance of developing into an APROC.
EVA Air spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) echoed Chang, saying that even though having direct cross-strait flights can help Taiwan become a regional aviation hub, this goal is still hard to achieve without Chinese tourists having the ability to transfer in Taiwan.
Nieh said that the government has encouraged the development of Taiwan's aviation industry, and that EVA Air has received orders from Delta Air Lines and UPS. EVA Air, however, is still waiting for the government's permission to build a fourth hanger in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, a year after requesting to do so.
“If there will be limitations on EVA Air's development in Taiwan,” Nieh said, “the company must pick a new location outside of this country for its future.”
Taoyuan Aerotropolis is a large urban planning development aiming to transform the international airport and its surrounding area into a world-class transportation and logistics hub.
Taoyuan International Airport Co.'s Chairman Yin Chen-pong (尹承蓬) said that he can understand the pressure and issues Taiwan's airline operators are facing, but that the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project is definitely not an empty promise.
Yin also said that the government has been striving for Chinese tourists to be allowed to transfer flights in Taiwan.
He added that he hopes all domestic companies can work through any difficulties with the government.