Govt. to remove aircraft landing fees to boost tourism in eastern Taiwan

More incentives are given to local airports in Hualien and Taitung following the nation-wide landing fee cut starting Jan. 1, 2018

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The undated photo shows an aircraft parking at Hualien Airport. (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Taiwan's Transportation Ministry is planning not to charge aircraft landing fees at the airports in Hualien and Taitung in hopes of boosting local tourism.

Eastern Taiwan was hit by multiple strong earthquakes in early February, among which a magnitude-6.0 earthquake caused four buildings to collapse, took the lives of 17, and injured 291. The 17 dead included five Taiwanese, nine Chinese tourists, two Canada-based Hongkongers, and one Filipino caregiver. 

The strong earthquakes not only damaged some tourist facilities and hotels, but has also hampered the hospitality and tourism industries in Hualien and Taitung.

The planned measure will be effective for aircraft arriving at the two airports between Feb. 7 and Dec. 31, 2018, and is set to woo air carriers to increase flights at local airports and bring in more foreign tourists, according to the draft. The Ministry of Transportation said that the new rule will be applied to past flights starting from February 7, and those running these flights during this period of time will receive a refund. 

Aircraft landing fees have been one of the major incomes for airport operators. 

Last year, the government of Taiwan announced it would cut landing fees by 20 percent at most airports in Taiwan, with the exception of the Taoyuan International Airport, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, to boost flights between local airports and the airports in Southeast and South Asian countries. The transportation official said that the results have yet to be known as the incentives have only been in place for four months.  

The Deputy Director of the Taitung Airport said there are only two departing and returning flights a week between Taitung and Hong Kong during the summer vacation, and are usually fully booked. With that, the exemption of the landing fee will save costs and could prompt airliners to increase flights. 

The Hualien Airport indicated that currently there is one departing flight bound for Hong Kong and a returning flight a day; 60 percent of the passengers are Hongkongers arriving for leisure and 20 percent of the passengers are eastern Taiwan residents.