Taiwan is on the verge of a budget air travel revolution, as the country’s first ever low-cost carriers prepare to take off.
The country’s first budget airline, Tigerair Taiwan, confirmed this week that it plans to launch its first flights on 26 September 2014, on the route between Taipei and Singapore. The inaugural route is appropriate as Tigerair Taiwan is a joint venture between Singapore-based Tigerair and Taiwan’s national carrier China Airlines.
As with all other Tigerair units, the new Taiwanese venture will operate a fleet of all-economy class Airbus A320 aircraft. Channel NewsAsia quoted company spokesperson Eric Lee as saying this week that Tigerair Taiwan’s first A320 took off from the Airbus factory in France on Sunday, bound for Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport.
Following the Singapore launch, Tigerair Taiwan is planning to add three more routes to Southeast Asia by the end of 2014, before venturing into Japan and South Korea in the first quarter of 2015.
But Tigerair Taiwan won’t have the market entirely to itself. Another new Taiwanese LCC, V Air, is expected to commence commercial operations before the end of the year.
A subsidiary of Taiwan’s third biggest airline, TransAsia Airways, V Air will initially operate a fleet of two or three Airbus A320 series aircraft on flights within a flight radius of five hours from Taipei. Like Tigerair, this will include destinations in Northeast and Southeast Asia, which the airline said are “popular travel destinations for Taiwanese”.
Taiwan’s other major airline, EVA Air, has said it has no plans to enter the low-cost sector, and is instead expanding its long-haul operations, especially to the US.