Mandarin Airlines to end Taipei-Kaohsiung route tomorrow

The China Post news staff

Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) will officially terminate its Taipei-Kaohsiung flight service starting Sept. 1 due to the route’s failure in the face of strong competition from Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp., according to company officials.

The officials said that the firm’s last flight to Kaohsiung will depart from Taipei International Airport at 7:50 p.m. today, with all the seats fully booked; while the seats of the last flight to Taipei will take off from Xiogang Airport at 9:10 p.m. are already 90-percent booked.

The high passenger load ratios indicate that quite a few passengers just want to witness the historical moment of the closure of the Taipei-Kaohsiung flight route, officials said. At the moment, Mandarin operates three Taipei-Kaoshiung flights per week, with the booking rate ranging from only 30 percent to 50 percent of each 104-seat flight, losing ground to the High Speed Rail service, which charges only NT$1,490 for a one-way Taipei-Kaohsiung ticket, lower than the flight fare of NT$1,750. The high frequency of the High Speed Rail services is also a major attraction to passengers.

Statistics of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) showed that during its heyday in 1997, the Taipei-Kaohsiung flight routes witnessed as many as 85 flights per day and 3,000 flights a year.

After closing its Taipei-Kaohsiung route, Mandarin will increase its Taipei-Taitung services to 17 flights a week from the existing 14 flights.

In related news, the UNI Airways Corp. has also been approved by the CAA to reduce its flights between Taipei and the southern tip of Hengchun to two from three, starting from Sept. 1, due to poor weather conditions and the extremely low booking rate of under 30 percent.