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EVA investing in N. America amid low Chinese transit market

2016/06/08 15:39:29

EVA Air President Derek Chen.

Taipei, June 8 (CNA) The president of EVA Air said he is not surprised about the poor performance of the Chinese transit market since the measure allowing such travel was implemented Feb. 1, adding that his company will focus on services to North America to cultivate Taiwan as a key transit hub.

The priority for the airline is to connect Southeast Asia and North America, providing more transit options for passengers traveling between the two sides, Derek Chen (陳憲弘) told CNA earlier this week at the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Dublin, Ireland.

Chen said he does not expect Chinese passengers to contribute to the transit market in the short term, but said he remains optimistic for its potential, as long as Taiwan and China maintain good relations.

"It will certainly be a bonus if we have Chinese transit passengers," he said.

Since China began allowing Chinese travelers from the cities of Nanchang, Kunming and Chongqing to transit via Taiwan for destinations in Europe, the United States, New Zealand and Australia, Taipei-based China Airlines and EVA Air had only flown some 200 Chinese passengers as of early May, according to the Mainland Affairs Council.

Judging from this development, industry insiders were cited as saying that it will be extremely difficult for Taiwan's largest airport to achieve its target of handling 20,000 Chinese transit travelers in the first year of offering the service.

For now, EVA Air is upgrading its services to and from North America, giving passengers itinerary flexibility by adjusting schedules to offer more daytime flights and increasing the frequency of existing routes.

For instance, Chen said, convenient early morning departures and arrivals westbound will enable business travelers to use their workdays for meetings.

EVA Air will also start adjusting its Los Angeles schedule Aug. 4, providing travelers with morning, afternoon and nighttime flights to choose from so that they can make onward connections to destinations throughout Asia more easily, he explained.

Adding to the current Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver services, Chicago will become EVA Air's eighth gateway in North America, set to be launched Nov. 2.

By year end, the carrier will be offering 76 flights a week between North America and Taipei. It will also increase the frequency of flights on routes within Southeast Asia, boosting the number of easy onward connections from the current 84 flights a week to 124.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)