Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) Nonstop charter flights between Hualien County and South Korea for the spring season have been suspended until March 28 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the county government said Tuesday.
South Korean carrier Eastar Jet started operating nonstop charters from the Korean cities of Incheon and Busan to Hualien in October and November 2019, respectively.
The airline provided a total of five round trips per week on the two routes, but due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Easter Jet's spring flights on the two routes have been suspended until March 28, said Chang Chih-shiang (張志翔), deputy head of Hualien County's Department of Tourism.
As of now, however, the summer flight schedule connecting Hualien and South Korea should still start as expected on March 29, according to another Hualien County transportation official.
Eastar Jet operated 70 charter flights to Incheon and Busan last year and had originally scheduled 416 charters this year, which was expected to bring 70,000 South Korean travelers to the eastern county.
The current suspension of fights is expected to reduce tourist arrivals to the county by 10,000.
Since the two new routes were launched, they have achieved an average load factor of 70 percent, Chang said.
Hualien County Travel Agency Association Chairman Wu Yung-chang (吳永昌) was not sure, however, that the Easter Jet flights would resume as scheduled.
Interest in travel has waned recently because of the coronavirus outbreak, resulting in the cancellations of about six tours from South Korea to Hualien scheduled for March, Wu said, and he suggested that whether Easter Jet will resume its flights to Hualien after March 28 may not be clear until after May.