Taiwan's southernmost airport considers charter flights from Philippines

Hengchun Airport near Kenting has not seen any flights since September 2014

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Hengchun Airport (CAA photo via CNA) 

Hengchun Airport (CAA photo via CNA) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A charter flight will take off from the Philippines capital Manila on Sept. 21, carrying five aviation inspectors and 12 engineers. Its destination: Hengchun Airport, in Pingtung County, near Taiwan’s southernmost point.

The trial flight is the latest effort by the local tourism sector to revive an airport that hasn’t seen regular air traffic for six years, CNA reported Friday (Sept. 18). The township of Hengchun includes Kenting, which is known for its sandy beaches, and a magnet for tourists during weekends and public holidays.

Its popularity has reached the ears of airline executives in the Philippines, who are eager to try out charter flights to the Taiwanese destination, according to the Pingtung County Government. The Dornier 328 turboprop-powered aircraft can carry 31 passengers, but only supervisors from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and engineers will be on board for Monday’s flight.

The main issues at Hengchun Airport have been a strong downslope wind and the length of the runway at 1,800 meters, but the flight from the Philippines will first fly around the area before landing and taxiing around to test its suitability. Due to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the plane will not shut off its engines, nor open its door, the county government said.