Taipei-A near open skies agreement signed by Taiwan and Australia last December is bearing fruit as Taiwan's flagship airline is about to increase its direct flights between the two countries, according to the Australian Office in Taipei on Monday.
Under the agreement, Taiwan's China Airlines (CAL) announced in September that it will increase its weekly services to Australia from 14 to 24 direct flights per week, starting Dec. 1, Catherine Raper, head of the Australian Office, noted.
The agreement lifted the cap of 6,000 seats per week on both sides and removed the barrier of only four destinations in Australia, which is helping to meet demand, she told CNA in an exclusive interview.
"The demand was hitting up against the barriers before," Raper said. "At the moment it's still a growth market."
Under the pact, airlines in Taiwan and Australia are now allowed to operate unlimited services to and from any destination between the two countries.
Based on the agreement, CAL has decided to increase its Taipei-Sydney round-trip services from one to two per day, and its Taipei-Brisbane services from four times a week to a daily service.
There are no plans, however, for EVA Airways, another leading carrier in Taiwan, or any Australian airlines to expand their services at the moment.
The near open skies agreement is seen as support for the Taiwan government's New Southbound Policy, which is aimed at enhancing relations with countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia, and Australia and New Zealand.
Prior to the agreement, EVA Airways had increased its flights between Taipei and Brisbane by 50 percent in October 2016. It currently offers four weekly services between the two destinations.
According to Raper, Taiwanese visitor arrivals to Australia in the first nine months of this year have grown by 10.3 percent to over 173,000 from the same period last year, while Australian arrivals in Taiwan have increased by 16.6 percent to over 88,000.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel