Domestic flight fares to increase in October

By Joy Lee,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday that domestic flight fares will be hiked in October to reflect increased oil prices, however there are no immediate plans to raise train and freeway fares. Several lawmakers from across party lines said that given the nation’s current economic slump, the government should avoid increasing travel costs.

“It is a great challenge to balance the development of public transportation and take care of the public’s transportation demands,” said Yeh.

“Domestic flight fares have not been adjusted for eight years, while the fuel prices for airlines have doubled during the same period, affecting their operational costs.”

Yeh, however, promised that train and freeway fares will not be increased in the near future, to avoid a further burden on the public, especially while coming out of a severe economic slump.

According to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA, 民航局), the first stage of the domestic flight fare adjustment, set for October, will apply to residents of Taiwan’s main island. The second stage, set for January 2014, will affect those living on the country’s outlying islands, including Penghu, Matsu and Kinmen.

CAA Director-General Shen Chi (沈啟) said that the administration is still in the process of calculating adjustment rates, and that depending on the flight route in question, the rise may be between 6 and 35 percent.

“The CAA has held discussions with representatives of airline operators and consumers to increase the pricing discrimination on peak and off-peak periods, which will allow consumers to enjoy cheaper flight tickets if they travel at off-peak times.” According to the CAA, passengers will not be responsible for all the increased flight fares, since the government and airline operators will both absorb some of the increase.

Yeh Suggests No Rise in High-speed Rail Prices Yeh also said that Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. (台灣高鐵, THSR) should not propose an increase to ticket prices, after the emergency halt to all scheduled trains on April 26 that affected approximately 35,000 passengers.

THSR Chairman Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) said that the company will consider factors such as cost, competition, public demand and societal perception to finish the evaluation regarding a price adjustment.

“Even though the THSR could propose to increase ticket prices according to its contract,” Yeh said, “this is not the best time to discuss the issue considering the public is not satisfied with the high-speed rail’s operation after the signal malfunctions incident last week that affected many passengers and triggered a great amount of complaints.”