TAIWAN-based TransAsia Airways has set its sights on becoming one of Asia’s foremost carriers by growing its network beyond North Asia. Having already launched services to Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta are next.
Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily in an exclusive interview, Andrew Stephen, TransAsia’s general manager for South-east Asia, said: “As a relatively new player in the international arena, our key goal now is to build brand awareness, not just as a Taiwanese airline but as pan-Asian airline that’s based in Taiwan. That’s the distinction we want to create.”
Presently, TransAsia offers flights to Singapore from Taipei and Hanoi from Kaohsiung. Load factors on the Singapore-Taipei flight launched last July now stand at 80 per cent. “Demand for flights between Taipei and Singapore has been so robust we had to add on 15 to 16 extra flights in November and December.” Stephen said the airline was looking to add another daily service to the Singapore-Taipei route to cater to the Taiwanese market. Currently, the route draws a mix of group tours, and FITs who form the core group of customers, as well as corporates, which is “becoming an increasingly important segment for TransAsia”.
When queried about the airline’s expansion plans, Stephen said Bangkok and Jakarta were under the microscope. “We should begin operations to at least one of these by the end of 2012.”
With two A330s on order, one scheduled to be delivered in November and the other in January 2013, Stephen revealed that midhaul and longhaul destinations in Australia, India, Hawaii and the US west coast might even be on the cards. Ultimately, TransAsia hopes to create a comprehensive network, linking South-east Asia’s capitals and regional cities to points in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
However, the airline’s status as a non-ASEAN airline could work against it. “Our plans are limited by the permissions granted by respective (ASEAN) governments to fly into their airspace, putting us at a slight disadvantage when compared to ASEAN-based carriers, particularly when the ASEAN open skies agreement comes into being in 2015. We are banking on the Taiwanese government, which is undergoing bilateral discussions with various ASEAN nations at the moment, to have negotiated open skies agreement with most ASEAN countries by then, giving us the green light to put our vision into action,” explained Stephen.