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Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 2:30 AM
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World Routes: Taipei Taoyuan International Airport Status Overview
by JL
During the World Routes event earlier this month, the author for this site had the opportunity to sat down with delegates from Taipei Taoyuan International Airport and had a discussion regarding the current status and the future plan of the airport.

The following are selected excerpts from the interview. Note the original interview was conducted in Chinese. Below is the translation to English. There is no alteration to its main message the airport trying to spread out, despite the translation to English may slightly different. (以下是個人在今年10月參與柏林舉行的World Routes大會時, 向台北桃園國際機場代表做關於機場現在和未來發展所做的訪問的英文版. 中文原文請參閱台灣的玉山航空網站. 雖然翻譯成英文版時語意有少許變更, 但基本原意並未做任何修改.)

What has changed since Taipei Taoyuan International Airport became a corporation management structure in late-2010?
Taoyuan International Airport (TIA) became a corporation in Nov 2011. Since the change we are able to discuss any issues regarding the airport directly with The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), by-passing Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). In general, CAA conducts the decision and plannings for the airport, and acts as “The Middleman” between as and MOTC. However, sometimes our ideas are unheard by the MOTC because the CAA may disapprove it.

Please explain the current status and future development of the airport.
Currently TIA is undergoing renovation for both passenger terminals as well as runways.

We are currently renovating Terminal 1, which the project is expected to complete by late-2011/early-2012. Upon completion for Terminal 1, over annual capacity will raise from 15 million to 17 million. There will be minor renovation for Terminal 2, which was opened in 2000s. Project for runway overhaul was launched in September 2011, and we expect the overhaul and upgrades will complete by 2012.

Regarding future development, as part as Taiwan Government’s “Taoyuan Aero Park Project”, this includes the new Terminal 3 and expanded apron/tarmac. For Terminal 3, we are scheduled to issue Request for Proposal (RFP) around 27OCT11, inviting bidders for the terminal building design of Terminal 3. Our current goal for Terminal 3 is construction to be completed by late-2018/early-2019, and be fully operational by 2019. Upon completion of Terminal 3, TIA will have the ability to handle 43 million passengers per year. Our projected annual capacity is 45.4 million by 2020, 58.9 million by 2030. The area of Terminal 3 exceeds combined T1 and T2.

Our tentative schedules for Terminal 3 design and long-term development includes:
*Phase 1
Planning for Third Runway and new Satellite Terminal, which are located North of the current location of TIA. However the land expropriation has not begun, which we are expecting 5-year time frame for this particular project.

Between 2011 and 2015, we will be moving current WC taxiway
Between 2016 and 2020, we plan to start the construction of aprons/tarmac, Terminal 3 concourses and additional Cargo Bay

The Aviation Museum, located at the current location for planned Terminal 3, is scheduled to be demolished by 2012. (When being asked about the future of the museum, TIA responded there are several proposals being studied, including possibility of integrating into Terminal 3 design)

*Phase 2
Developing new cargo terminals, aprons and MRO areas between 2017 and 2020
Development of the new Satellite Concourse between 2019 and 2030
Construction of the 3rd Runway as well as new taxiway is planned between 2026 and 2030

*Phase 3
Upon completion of phase 2, T1 re-development and its surrounding area will begin, including the reallocation of cargo terminal area
New “EC” Taxiway is also to be built after phase 2 completion

In Taiwan, there has been reports and rumors that Terminal 1 may be demolished in the future. What is the actual plan for T1?
Once Terminal 3 enters operation, we are included to keep existing Terminal 1. This would make sense as we are currently investing in the renovation for long-term use/operation. We do have several proposals, which may turn Terminal 1 into a low-cost terminal, but we don’t have any concrete decisions yet.

A Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) link is currently under construction which will link the airport with Downtown Taipei. There has been criticism on the route planning, in particular with multiple-stops between the airport and Taipei
The route planning was done by previous policy makers so we don’t have much say about it, especially the construction project is underway, and expected to enter operation by 2014. However, we are currently planning 1-stop service between the airport and Downtown Taipei, which takes only 28 minutes.

Is the MRT 24-hour operational?
Our future target is 24-hour operational, but since we don’t have many red-eye flights to/from TIA, we have no such plan for the future.

In Taiwan, TIA received waves of negative news report and criticisms by the media. What is TIA’s view on this
Taiwanese media are known for sensationalizing news report, so all kinds of criticism by news media, commentators, and internet users (in Taiwan) are within our expectations. We do acknowledge some scandals and major issues regarding TIA, to be honest, they are not new, because were no decisive action in the past to solve (the issues) and investigate (the scandals). Now that we are taking actions against these, it is quite easy for them to be reported within short time frame.

In the past 10 years (up to 2008/09), TIA saw decline in annual passenger numbers. What difference will it make after TIA become a corporation management?
In the past 10 years the Government did not put enough attention in the aviation sector. This sector didn’t receive enough resource to sustain growth.

Also there wasn’t much relationship between the airport and airlines. Voices from the airlines were mostly unheard, and they weren’t consulted when it comes to policy making/changes by the airport authority. As TIA became a corporate management, we begin to maintain mutual relationship. We want airline’s input for the new terminal and future planning, and we will let them know what we plan to do as well.

What are the priorities of future route development?
Our current main priority is focus on traffic to China, and we are confident that TIA has the potential to replace Hong Kong as the major transfer hub to China. Although current cap for weekly flights between Taiwan and China is 500 weekly round-trips, but we are hopeful that this will increase. (Note based on Dec 2011 schedule as of 24OCT11, there are 787 weekly flights between Hong Kong and China, 348 between TIA and China. There are 36 routes out of TIA).

Besides China, we are also looking at new service to Europe and Middle East, including service resumptions

Taiwanese Aviation Enthusiasts are hoping the return of foreign carriers that abandoned Taiwan in the last decade, as well as new carriers serving Taiwan. However, based on those that left Taiwan market towards the end of 1990s, they claim operational costs at Taiwan is too high.
Based on our knowledge, high operational cost at that time includes setting up a separate company for Taiwan operation. Average air fares paid were also a major issue to them.

The Government in the past decade did not put enough resources in the aviation sector, which there were not enough effort made to spread our names out. In mid-2000s we changed our name from “Taipei Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport” to “Taipei Taoyuan International Airport”. This name change created confusions that some high profile carriers thought we’re different airport, not the same airport. Overall political instability was also a reason contributed to lack of interest in Taiwan market.

The reason why we are at World Routes is to promote ourselves, spread the awareness of our brand and infrastructure upgrades. Through the meetings with airline delegates, we hope that airlines will re-discover and have better understanding of TIA. With Taiwan’s geographic location and brand new infrastructure and resources being invested for the future, we hope the carriers that left Taiwan market in the past will make a return; existing carriers adding new flights/routes; new carriers starting new service to TIA.

Sung Shan Airport in Downtown Taipei re-opened scheduled International traffic in the 4th Quarter of 2010. How has this affected TIA and what is the future prospect?
In short-term we did recorded decline in terms of passenger numbers after Sung Shan reopens to International traffic. We have lost nearly 50% of flights to Tokyo as carriers moved from TIA to Sung Shan. Additional impact is expected once traffic from Sung Shan to Seoul Gimpo is launched, as well as additional flights to China.

However in the long-term, we believe we will regain the advantage, in particular with the operation of MRT. For Sung Shan Airport, their ability to expand is limited. Once they reached their capacity limit, airlines will be forced to move their operation back to us because we have the room to grow. 1-stop MRT service between Downtown Taipei and TIA is only 28 minutes, which is roughly the same to Sung Shan Airport from most part of Taipei City (as well as neighboring New Taipei City)

What is TIA’s view on the on-going debate on the existence of Sung Shan Airport
From our views, we hope Sung Shan Airport can be demolished. However we don’t have the rights to decide nor have a say about it.

What is TIA’s view on local Taiwanese Airports asking for International flights?
We understands everyone hopes for convenience for air travel, thus politicians trying to gain votes will always ask the status of their local airport upgrade to International. For the next 2-3 years, having flights to China (including International) out of other cities in Taiwan is a temporary relief for us as we are upgrading our infrastructures.

Taiwan’s Presidential Election (Jan 2012) is happening in less than 3 months. If the current opposition party DPP returns to power, subsequently leads to relation change between Taiwan and China, is TIA expecting any worse case scenario such as possibility of halting traffic between the two sides?
We haven’t thought about this to be honest. Again we don’t really have a say on the policy and the decision making. We think halting entire traffic is impossible, thus we don’t think it is likely to happen. We are likely incline to think that slow-down on the growth is likely if the worst happens.

Thank you for taking the time for the interview.

The (original) Chinese version has been posted on the Taiwanese Aviation Message Board “Jade Air”. Link can be found here
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