Taiwan, South Korea to expand air travel

AIR travel between Taiwan and South Korea is expected to surge next year following an agreement last month to launch new flight services and increase the number of seats available on existing routes between the two countries.

Changes to the bilateral air services arrangement will include the resumption of flights between Seoul’s Gimpo Airport and Songshan Airport in Taipei.

“The Gimpo-Songshan route is expected to be open around March 2012, with seven weekly flights to be permitted for each airline from the two countries,” a spokesperson for South Korea’s
Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs was quoted by Yonhap News as saying.

Gimpo and Songshan Airports are located in the respective suburbs of Seoul and Taipei, while their respective alternatives currently in use, Incheon and Taoyuan Airports, are situated about an hour beyond the cities’ limits. The Gimpo-Songshan route will save travellers up to an hour of ground travel on both ends.

“For travellers between Taipei and Seoul, (the new route) will reduce ground travel,” said Hamilton Liu, spokesperson for China Airlines. “I would expect more business travel and economic activity between our two countries.”

Air capacity allocation between Seoul (Incheon) and Taiwan’s Taoyuan will also be boosted by 2,000 seats per week, bringing the total to 5,500 weekly seats for each side.

The capacity hike will involve increasing the number of flights allocated to each side’s airlines from 18 to 22 every week.

A source at Taiwan’ Civil Aeronautics Administration cautioned that additional seat allocations to airlines would not take place until the agreement has been ratified, possibly before year-end.

South Korea welcomed 406,300 Taiwanese visitors last year, up from 380,500 in 2009. Taiwan also recorded an increase in South Korean visitors, from 167,600 in 2009 to 216,900 last year.

By Glenn Smith

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