Taipei, June 15 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Tuesday thatthe government will go all-out to finish renovating Taipei's SongshanAirport by October 2011 to cope with increasing traffic demand.
According to Ma, the makeover will be an essential step inpreparing the airport for further links with Tokyo's Haneda Airportand Seoul's Gimpo International Airport, after direct flights withShanghai's Hongqiao Airport was launched Monday.
While the first phase of the project is expected to be completedin October this year, the second and third phases are scheduled to beconcluded in March and October 2011, respectively, he said.
"By then, Songshan Airport's shabby look should see someimprovement, " Ma told reporters after a media luncheon marking theDragon Boat Festival.
He recalled that Songshan Airport, which used to be aninternational airport, was changed to a domestic airport in February1979 and served more than 100 flights a day during the boom years ofthe domestic aviation industry.
After the high-speed railway system was launched in 2007, almostall the flights between Songshan and major cities along the westcoast were forced to a halt, with the airport now mainly servingflights linking Taipei with eastern Taiwan and outlying islands, hepointed out.
The domestic aviation industry has since been revived followingthe launch of direct air links between Taiwan and China, making iturgent to remodel Songshan Airport, Ma said.
Thanks to efforts by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, directSongshan-Hongqiao flights -- which had been targeted for October --were realized four months ahead of schedule, he said.
Also commenting on the issue Tuesday, Su Tseng-chang, theopposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidate for theyear-end Taipei mayoral election, described Songshan's hasty launchof direct flights with Hongqiao Airport before the completion of itsmakeover as an "unnecessary" move based merely on "electionconsiderations."
Su expressed disapproval of a proposal by some DPP politicians,including former Taipei Mayor Chen Shui-bian, to relocate SongshanAirport, because "the conditions to do so are currently lacking."
Su said he does not oppose the government's current policy oftransforming Songshan into a major metropolitan airport as long as itis in the interests of the city's residents.
(By Lee Shu-hua, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Y.F. Low)