EVA woos Asean to make Taipei a hub

Posted: April 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm

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THE Taipei April 2, 2012 1:00 am

James Jeng, chairman of Taiwan's second-largest airline, said last week that Taipei enjoys a good geographical location for transpacific flights. The transit time at Taoyuan Inter-national Airport is only two to three hours. EVA operates 45 flights per week to those markets.

Passengers come from Singapore, Malaysia, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok. Especially from Vietnam, half of them arrive for flight connections to North America. From Bangkok alone, EVA has 10 flights scheduled per week. It has a code-sharing agreement with Bangkok Airways so its passengers can conveniently continue on to destinations across the Kingdom.

Asean, especially Thailand, is an important market for EVA. Since the Asean Economic Community will materialise in less than three years, the firm would look at this market "carefully".

EVA's ambition is to play a bigger role in the global aviation industry. Its membership application to Star Alliance, the world's largest airline grouping with 26 members, was unanimously accepted after a year-long discussion. Now, EVA will have to spend a year working on the integration process, with strong support from Air China, based in Beijing, as the mentor airline.

Pandit Chanapai, executive vice president for commercial affairs of Thai Airways International, the national carrier, said the entry of EVA into the group would help strengthen THAI's network by adding destinations that it cannot reach. Vancouver is an example. THAI's passengers can fly from Bangkok to Taipei then transfer to an EVA aircraft bound for Vancouver. THAI's passengers will enjoy benefits on both segments, especially mileage points for redemption.

THAI has turned its focus to the Asian market and is looking for major cities to add to its regional network. It flies from Bangkok to Taipei 14 times a week and is planning to increase the frequency to 15 in the future. Its load factor this month is 73 per cent on the morning flight from Bangkok and 82 per cent on the evening flight from Taipei. In October, THAI will add Taipei to its Phuket-Hong Kong route, with seven stopovers per week, as part of its plan to increase load capacity.

Becoming a member of Star Alliance will be a crucial step for EVA. The airline will be able to expand its global network where it has not gone yet, especially South America and Africa. It will be able to reach the European market with cost-saving cooperation, especially with members like Lufthansa and Austrian, amid the controversy over the collection of carbon emission fees by the European Union from airlines flying to the continent. EVA's major market is still China. EVA will enter the world's fastest-moving market via Air China. EVA serves 25 destinations in China from various cities in Taiwan with 105 flights per week, with some operated by its sister airline UNI Air. The airline plans to cash in on mainland China following the relaxation of political tensions between the two economies.

UNI flies mainly domestic routes, especially to remote islands. However, it is studying the feasibility of transforming itself into one of the low-cost airlines in Asia in the future, said Chang Kuo-wei, president of EVA Airways Corp. EVA Air was established in March 1989 and took off on its inaugural flight in July 1991. Last year, it carried 6.7 million passengers to domestic and 62 international destinations. Its fleet consists of 42 passenger aircraft and 17 freighters.

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EVA woos Asean to make Taipei a hub

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April 1st, 2012 at 8:24 pm

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