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Airlines suspend 6 routes between Taichung Airport and China
【Cross Straits】2016-06-07  15:06:24
Taipei, June 7 (CNA) A number of carriers have suspended their flights between Taichung Airport in central Taiwan and destinations in China due to slow business on those routes, airport director Chang Jui-shu (張瑞澍) confirmed Tuesday.

Chang said that since March, flights between Taichung Airport and Changsha, Zhengzhou, Jinan, Qingdao, Tiangin and Chengdo in China have been discontinued because of a low passenger load factor that resulted from an 8 percent drop in group tourists from China.

He was responding to a local media report that said airlines operating between Taichung Airport and Hangzhou, Nanjing and Ningpo had canceled 10 routes since March.

Taichung Airport, the third largest in Taiwan, launched cross-Taiwan Strait air services in 2008 to serve mainly the many Taiwanese businessmen operating in China.

In 2013, the airport was handling an average 36 round-trip flights per week to 16 cities in China, serving a total of 840,000 passengers on the cross-strait routes for the year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

By 2015, the annual number of passengers on those routes had jumped to nearly 1.2 million, according to the data.

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung on Saturday put forward a proposal to upgrade the airport to an international airport that would serve central Taiwan. Commenting on the proposal Tuesday, Chang said that at present, Taichung Airport cannot accommodate passenger planes with more than 300 seats and the facilities indeed would have to be upgraded.

Since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was elected in Taiwan in January, there have been several reports of China pulling back from its ties with Taiwan by means such as tightening restrictions on the number of Chinese tourists allowed to visit the island.

In May, the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan on group tours fell 31 percent year-on- year, causing concerns in Taiwan's tourism industry.

(By J.K. Liao and Flor Wang)
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