TAIWAN and Japan are expected to sign an open skies agreement by the end of the month, facilitating the inauguration of new routes and flights as early as the start of winter schedule.
Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) planning director, Betty Cheng, said: "The Executive Yuan (the executive branch of the Taiwan government) is expected to approve the draft proposal and arrange diplomatic channels for its signing before the end of the month."
Existing bilateral treaties allow each side to operate only two airlines for points between the two countries. For Taiwan, China Airlines and EVA Airways have been allocated the rights, and for Japan: Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
Under the open skies deal, Tokyo's Haneda Airport will allow flights from Taiwan from 22.00 to 7.00 daily, while Tokyo's Narita Airport will boost allotted weekly flights from 36 to 38. All Taiwan airports will be open to new carriers except Taipei Songshan Airport. Flights between all other points will also be allowed.
Japanese low-cost carriers Peach Aviation, founded earlier this year (TTG Asia e-Daily, February 10) and Skymark Airlines intend to develop new routes to Taiwan, while TransAsia Airways, UNI Air and Mandarin Airlines will convert existing charter flights into regular scheduled services.
Cheng expects the changes to greatly increase traffic between the two countries. "Having more carriers will bring down prices and stimulate more consumers to travel between the two countries," she said.