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Taoyuan airport to see new carriers, routes

TAIPEI--Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport expects the number of carriers operating there to rise further in 2014, after welcoming several newcomers to the country's main air hub this year.

Three carriers launched their first service to the airport this year. Hawaiian Airlines opened the Taoyuan-Honululu route in July, and China's Juneyao Airlines and Spring Airlines both began offering flights to and from Shanghai Pudong on Dec. 1.

Japan's Vanilla Air is set to become the latest air carrier to launch flights at the airport, as it will offer service between Taoyuan and Tokyo Narita later this month, airport spokesman Wen Yung-sung said Saturday.

In recent years, Taoyuan International Airport has posted rapid growth in passenger numbers, thanks to the introduction of regular flights between Taiwan and China, as well as Taiwan's open-air agreement with Japan, and the entry of low-cost carriers.

During the first 11 months of this year, the airport recorded 10.3 percent year-on-year growth in passenger numbers and expects the full-year figure to top 30 million after the record high of 27.83 million in 2012.

Looking ahead to next year, Wen said British Airways and Qatar Airways have expressed interests in operating services to Taoyuan, in addition to Middle Eastern carrier Emirates, which recently announced its plan to begin services from Dubai.

In August, Emirates, which currently only operates cargo flights to Taoyuan, announced the launch of six weekly passenger flights between Dubai and Taoyuan from Feb. 10.

British Airways is no stranger to the Taiwan market, as it operated between Taoyuan and London Heathrow via Hong Kong, under the brand of British Asia Airways, from 1993 to early 2002.

But for Qatar Airways, new services will not be possible until Taiwan and the Arab state sign an air transport agreement, according to the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

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