CAL studying feasibility of Prague flights: minister
By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter
China Airlines (CAL, 華航) is studying the feasibility of launching direct flights between Taiwan and Prague, Transport and Communications Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) told the Legislative Assembly Transport Committee yesterday.
Wang made the remarks in response to a question from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) about the ministry’s plan to boost the tourism sector as national borders are set to reopen Thursday the week next.
While Taiwan offers direct flights to the UK and other Western European destinations, it has not yet offered direct flights to countries in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, a Hsu said.
“Taiwan and Central and Eastern European countries have grown closer over the past three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Taiwan donated masks to Europe and received donated vaccines by Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland,” Hsu added.
“Eastern European countries were ruled by communists. Compared to their attitude towards Russia and China, they have a better impression of Taiwan and think Taiwanese are friendlier,” he said.
“Legislators from these countries have also visited Taiwan, and vice versa. We should be able to launch more direct flight services to Eastern Europe,” he said.
The government should consider offering direct flights to Sweden, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, he added.
Wang said flights to Prague could only work if they had enough passengers.
Civil Aviation Administration Director General Lin Kuo-hsien (林國顯) said Taiwan and the Czech Republic have signed a civil aviation pact.
However, airlines need to consider various factors before launching new flights, Lin said, adding that CAL is the only carrier that has been asked to assess the feasibility of direct flights between Taiwan and Prague.
“There are more Taiwanese tourists who want to visit Eastern Europe than Eastern European tourists who want to visit Taiwan. As such, it would be difficult for the airline to maintain flight service without supporting connecting passengers along the flight route,” Lin said.
Wang told Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) that the Mainland Affairs Council and the National Security Council were discussing whether the “three little ties” connecting the counties of Penghu, Kinmen and Lienchiang in China’s Fujian province would be taken over when the borders reopen.
Mainland Council Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) told the legislature’s internal administration committee that the Lunar New Year holiday next year may be a more appropriate time to resume ties. .
“Even though the borders will soon be reopened, the Central Epidemic Command Center is still limiting the number of inbound travelers to 150,000 per week, which would in turn affect the number of inbound flights to Taiwan,” Chiu said when told. wondered why he could only give a conservative estimate on the timing.
The Chinese Communist Party’s attitude could also affect the timing, Chiu said.
“They don’t want to lose face and prefer to keep a low profile. We’ve been working on some options, which might not work if we talk about them first. We won’t reveal any details unless we make some progress on this matter,” Chiu said.
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