TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — While air travel became one of the coronavirus pandemic’s main victims, airports on four small Taiwanese islands recorded growth in 2020, reports said Tuesday (Feb. 2).
Orchid Island, which is 64 kilometers off the main island’s southeast coast but part of Taitung County, saw the most growth, according to data from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA).
The number of airline passengers arriving on Orchid Island surged by 24.6 percent, from the 46,149 recorded in 2019 to 57,529 in 2020, CNA reported.
Wang’an, a small island in Penghu County, saw a year-on-year rise of 20 percent, or 1,756, in 2020.
Nan’gan Airport on Matsu, a Taiwanese-held island group close to the coast of China’s Fujian Province, came in third with 371,238 arrivals during the past year, an increase of 19.1 percent.
Qimei, which like Wang’an is a small Penghu County island, came in fourth, with a rise of 11.8 percent up to 20,552 arrivals, the CAA said.
The relative success of the small airports came as the pandemic made international travel complicated or impossible, while the authorities promoted domestic travel to help the industry. Weekends often saw packed ferries taking tourists to and from outlying islands over the past year.
In contrast, Taiwan’s main airports lost ground due to their reliance on international travel. The country’s top gateway, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, saw its number of passengers plunge by 84 percent, from 48 million in 2019 to 7.4 million last year.
Passenger traffic at Taipei Songshan Airport fell by half to 3 million, while Kaohsiung’s airport witnessed a fall of more than 70 percent, from 7.5 million to 1.8 million passengers.