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More budget air carriers on the way: CAA

TAIPEI--As budget airlines become increasingly popular in the region, Taiwan is set to see at least two new low-cost air carriers move in over the next year, according to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) on Saturday.

Taiwan has been host to 13 budget carriers since the first set up shop in the country nearly a decade ago, the CAA said, and more are on the way, as two Taiwan-based carriers are keen to jump on the low-cost runway.

TransAsia Airways in November announced plans to set up Taiwan's first locally based budget airline, which it expects to take off by the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, the board of directors of China Airlines, Taiwan's largest carrier, has approved a joint venture with Singapore's TigerAir that the companies hope can go operational next year.

In addition to the local carriers, the CAA said that a budget Vietnamese airline is looking into the possibility of opening a Taipei route.

Singapore's Jetstar Asia was the first budget firm to make inroads in Taiwan in 2004, kicking off a trend which has seen low-cost airlines grow in popularity and scope over the past decade.

Budget airlines made up less than 4 percent of international routes to and from Taiwan last year, but the ratio grew to 5.7 percent in the first 10 months of this year, the CAA said.

Over the same period of time, 1.85 million passengers flew on low-cost airlines, nearly double last year's 930,000, according to CAA data.

Joey Kao, marketing manager at AirAsia, Asia's largest budget air carrier, said that the company has made profits every year despite growing fuel costs, noting growth of over 20 percent in the third quarter of 2013 thanks to good cost management.

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