Money-losing routes to Hualien will continue: ministry

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications vowed on Tuesday that the money-losing Taipei-Hualien and Taichung-Hualien routes served previously by TransAsia Airways will continue to be operated after February although the airfare is likely to go up.

The routes, which are being operated for an interim period by Mandarin Airlines until Feb. 15, will not be suspended in order to serve people traveling to eastern Taiwan, which does not have convenient land transportation links, the ministry said.

The ministry will loosen restrictions on airfares on the routes to reflect the real costs of flying them, said Transportation Minister Ho Chen Tan (???).

Mandarin Airlines, which took over the two routes after TransAsia abruptly announced in late November it was shutting down, said it has lost NT$15 million (US$469,555) in the short time it has operated the routes, mainly because it uses jets instead of turboprops as TransAsia did.

The ministry said it is considering helping defray the losses on the routes by lowering landing fees and service charges.

Before its disbanding, TransAsia exclusively operated certain domestic routes, including the Taipei-Hualien and Taichung-Hualien routes and one connecting the outlying islands of Kinmen and Penghu.

The Kinmen-Penghu route was operated on a charter basis and was not included in Tuesday's deal offered by the ministry, which has rescinded all of TransAsia's flight rights to re-assign them to other carriers.

The government has temporarily designated China Airlines, the parent company of Mandarin Airlines, to take over all cross-Taiwan Strait and international routes served by TransAsia until Feb. 15.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel