Hengchun Air­port’s fate to be de­cided in ’16

The China Post - - LOCAL -

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.

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