London-China Airlines (CAL), one of Taiwan's international carriers, said Friday that it will provide code-sharing services with Air France in 2018 as the first step for the airline to serve the Taipei-Paris route.
CAL Chairman Ho Nuan-hsuan (???) made the comment as the carrier celebrated the resumption of direct flights between Taipei and London after its flight arrived in the U.K. capital.
Currently, EVA Airways, a rival of CAL, is the only carrier to serve the Taipei-Paris route, with one round-trip flight per day, which it has offered since 1993.
Air France stopped its services to Taipei in 1999.
Ho's comments seemed to back up market speculation that the French carrier will resume its services next year.
According to Ho, the code-sharing services between CAL and Air France are expected to start next summer.
Under the aviation agreement between Taiwan and France, each country is allowed to assign one carrier to serve the Taipei-Paris route.
Ho said that London and Paris are two of the most important destinations in Europe, so after resuming flights to London, CAL will try its best to obtain the green light for flights to Paris.
He said CAL has been trying hard to persuade Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration to issue a nod for the carrier to fly to Paris, while CAL representatives have visited aviation authorities in France to seek approval . After resuming flights between Taipei and London, Ho said, CAL provides the most European destinations -- London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vienna and Rome.
He added that the service resumption is aimed at tapping growing tourism exchanges between Taiwan and the U.K.
Ho cited data provided by the International Air Transport Association as saying that passengers who arrived in Taiwan from the U.K. or departed from Taiwan for the U.K. totaled 150,000 in 2016, up 10 percent from a year earlier. In the first eight months of this year, the growth rate hit 27 percent, the data shows.
CAL flew to London for the first time in March 2010, but due to low load factors, the service was suspended in 2012. Last year, CAL was aware of rising demand and decided to resume the service in 2017.
From Dec. 1, CAL flies to London's Gatwick Airport on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The carrier said it is studying the possibility of raising the number of weekly flights next year.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel