Senior officials of four of the main cross-Taiwan Strait carriers on Thursday expressed confidence in the aviation market between Taiwan and China despite the recent drastic decrease of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.
The "Greater China Connection (GCC)" -- made up of Taiwan-based China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines -- said they are optimistic about future passenger growth in the area although they did experience a slight drop in demand.
"There has been some fluctuation, but very small," said China Southern Airlines Chief Marketing Officer Guo Zhiqiang (???) at a ceremony in Taipei to launch a GCC co-branded card with a local bank.
Citing a long-term market study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which predicts promising passenger growth in the greater China region by 2030, China Eastern Airlines Executive Vice President Zeng Yongchao (???) said the GCC is well-positioned to lead the market in the area.
GCC now flies to 47 cross-strait destinations, provides 682 return flights weekly and carries nearly 500,000 passengers a month.
The four airlines said they have a combined membership in excess of 62 million, which is continuing to grow at nearly 20 percent a year.
Steve Chang (???), senior vice president of China Airlines, said the airline's performance between Taiwan and major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai remains robust amid a slowdown of cross-strait tourism exchanges.
However, Chang said demand from Chinese tourist groups -- especially from second-tier cities like Zhengzhou and Qingdao -- did fall.
China Airlines is making adjustments to use narrow-body aircraft instead of wide-body jets on less popular routes, he said, stressing that the carrier is trying everything it can to avoid suspending any route.
In general, the airline's cross-strait ridership has remained steady at around 75 percent since April, only a slight 2 percent decrease from the same period last year, he said.
According to Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the total number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan has fallen 22.3 percent, with a 38.9 percent drop in the number traveling in tour groups and a 2.9 increase in individual visitor arrivals since May 20.
In June, the total number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan fell 11 percent year-on-year to 271,000, the lowest in 30 months, data from Taiwan's Tourism Bureau shows.
Source: Focus Taiwan