Hengchun Airport’s fate to be decided in ’16
The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) will make a decision on whether to scrap Hengchun Airport in Pingtung County in the second half of next year, given the airport's extremely low passenger numbers, CAA Director-General Lin Tyh-ming said Saturday.
Lin said Pingtung County Government has commissioned a feasibility study to assess the possibility of using the airport for international charter flights, the results of which will be released in the second half of next year.
By that time, the CAA will have made a decision on whether to scrap or maintain the airport, he said.
Hengchun Airport was opened in 2004 with the goal of boosting tourism to the southern resort of Kenting.
Because of its short runway, however, the airport can only be used by small aircraft of just 72 seats. Also, flights are often canceled due to the downslope winds often seen in the county.
Owing to these unfavorable factors, the number of passengers using the airport has been declining over the years, especially after the launch of the high-speed railway in 2007, while the number of airline companies operating services to the airport has also decreased from three to just one.
According to CAA statistics, while there were more than 23,000 passengers between Taipei and Hengchun — the only route available at the airport — in 2004, the number dropped to more than 11,000 in 2006 and further to 2,448 in 2011.
In 2014, there were just 768 passengers, with only two flights with 21 passengers operating in August that year. The route has not seen a single flight or passenger since September of that year.