TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said Monday (March 16) that the government is planning to provide financial aid, such as project loans, to reduce the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) on Taiwan's aviation industry.
During a press interview at the Legislative Yuan, MOTC Deputy Minister Huang Yu-lin (黃玉霖) pointed out that six major airlines in the country, including China Airlines, Eva Air, Mandarin Airlines, Uni Air, Tigerair, and the newly established Starlux Airlines, have contacted the government about economic assistance and the possibility for financial loans. He said the MOTC has drafted an NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) project financing plan for the aviation companies, which will be reviewed by the Cabinet.
Huang said that Taiwan's airlines have taken a hard hit from the current pandemic and that many crew members have been forced to take unpaid leave due to the suspension of international flights. He said the government has decided to step in to help airlines that are struggling to pay their employees while making up for refunds and losses sustained from flight cancellations.
Huang stressed that the government will also lower airport rents and landing fees for Taiwanese air carriers until the outbreak is controlled. He said Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) is in full support of the project and will hold a meeting Wednesday (March 18) to discuss the details of the loans, reported Liberty Times.
According to UDN, the number of passengers flying on Taiwanese airlines decreased by approximately 50 percent in the month of February alone. As more infections are reported overseas, the government is only expected to suspend more flights in the upcoming months.