Taoyuan Airport Metro to start operation

The recently-finished Taoyuan Airport MRT will begin commercial service on 2 March 2017, after construction first started in 2006 and was delayed multiple times. Trains run from both terminals of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (A12 & A13) eastbound through New Taipei and Taipei to Taipei Main Station (A1) and southbound through Taoyuan City.

Travel time for express trains (purple, stopping at A1, A3, A8, A12, and A13) between the airport and Taipei Main Station is 30-40 minutes and are expected to run 4-5 times every hour (6 am-11 pm). Travel time for commuter trains (blue, every stop) is about one hour and will run every 15 minutes. Tickets between the airport and Taipei Main cost NT$160/person. Fares to other stations start at NT$30. EasyCard, iPass, and HappyCash are accepted. Tickets are 50% off during the first month of operation (2 March-1 April).

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Passengers can transfer to Taipei MRT in stations A1-A3, to high speed rail in stations A1 (HSR Taipei) and A18 (HSR Taoyuan), and to regular railway in stations A1 (Taipei Main) and A23 (TRA Zhongli, not yet open). Passengers flying China Airlines, EVA Airways, Mandarin Airlines, and UNI Airways can check in and drop their luggage at Taipei Main Station for flights departing after 9 am on the same day.

Taoyuan Airport MRT is the first line (Blue line) of Taoyuan Metro to open. Three more lines (Green, Orange, and Brown) are being planned and will connect stations A10, A11, A16, and A21 of the Airport MRT.

TransAsia Airways to be dissolved

Taiwan’s third largest airlines, TransAsia Airways (IATA Code: GE), announced today that the company will be dissolved, citing operational and financial difficulties, especially after two fatal crashes in July 2014 and February 2015. All flights were halted since yesterday, and the company will refund all tickets to passengers. Employees are being given notices and laid off, and labor disputes are expected. China Airlines has offered to assist travelers stranded overseas due to the flight suspension.

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Established in 1951, TransAsia Airways is the first privately-owned airlines in Taiwan. It started primarily as a domestic carrier, but expanded to operating international flights in in 1995 to Indonesia and flew to 6 domestic and 26 international destinations (mostly within Asia) before today. It operated 16 short- and mid-range planes. Prior to the crashes, TransAsia Airways attempted to broaden its passenger base by establishing a low-cost carrier, V Air, in 2014, only to then merge it back with the main company in August this year. TransAsia Airways also served as the ground handling agent for several international carriers, including Thai Airways, Jetstar Asia, Cebu Pacific, Xiamen Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines.

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China Airlines flight attendants to strike

Update 12 am 25 June 2016: Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union and China Airlines reached an agreement, after more than five hours of negotiations, to restore the original reporting location and working hours, increase per diem, compensation, and holidays for union members, ending the strike. Flight operation will return to normal on 27 June. Flights departing from Taoyuan (TPE) and Taipei Songshan (TSA) airports before 5 pm on 25 June are all cancelled except CI 110/111 TPE-Fukuoka, CI 833/834 TPE-Bangkok, CI 601/602 TPE-Hong Kong, CI 154/155 TPE-Nagoya, CI 160/161 TPE-Seoul Incheon, CI 120/121 TPE-Okinawa, CI 903/904 TPE-Hong Kong, and CI 501/502 TPE-Shanghai Pudong. Passengers should contact China Airlines at +886(2)412-9000.

Update 12 am 24 June 2016: China Airlines announced the cancellation of all flights between 6 am and 10 pm on 24 June departing from Taoyuan International Airport (Taipei, TPE) and Taipei Songshan Airport (Taipei, TSA). Flights departing from Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) and Tainan Airport (TNN) are not being affected at the moment.

Update 9 pm 23 June 2016: China Airlines has released a statement in response to the strike. For tomorrow before noon (24 June), 8 flights have been cancelled: CI 601/602 TPE-Hong Kong, CI 909/910 TPE-Hong Kong, CI 160/161 TPE-Seoul Incheon, CI 170/171 TPE-Toyama, CI 701/702 TPE-Manila, CI 110/111 TPE-Fukuoka, CI 300/301 Kaohsiung-TPE, and CI 278/279 TPE-Takamatsu.

Update 6 pm 23 June 2016: Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union has sent out a strike notice, where members will begin to strike at 00:00 am Taiwan time (GMT+8) 24 June 2016 in front of China Airlines headquarters in Taipei and will not service any flights departing from Taoyuan International Airport (Taipei, TPE) and Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH), China Airlines’ two hubs in Taiwan. Click this link to see a live streaming of the strike.

In a two-week vote of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union, which represents more than 80% of China Airlines’ flight attendants, 99% of more than 2500 members voted to strike in response to management decision to increase flight attendants’ working hour and changing reporting location to further away from Taoyuan International Airport without increasing compensation and per diem. China Airlines, Taiwan’s flag-carrier and largest airlines, is a member of SkyTeam and flies to more than 140 destinations in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America. Negotiations between company management and union broke down after the company refused union demands and invoked several retaliatory measures against union leadership. The union had planned to strike in July or August, in time for peak summer travel. The union has also decided to freeze all negotiations with company management until its demands are met.

China Airlines, the parent company of which is owned by a foundation owned by the Taiwanese government, has appealed to the ministries of transportation and labor to persuade union members not to strike. In the mean time, if you are planning a trip to Taiwan and want to avoid potential travel hassle, you may want to consider these other airlines that fly from and to Taiwan.

Taiwan signs trade agreement with Singapore

Taiwan and Singapore signed an economic cooperation agreement today in Singapore, removing much of trade tariffs between the two nations. A press conference is to be held shortly after the signing in Taipei. Negotiations first began in December 2010, followed by studies conducted by both sides on the benefits of such agreement. The agreement is officially between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, the name used by Taiwan in the World Trade Organization, as Singapore maintains diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and is careful to not to appear to recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan. The full title of the agreement is the “Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Partnership 新加坡與臺、澎、金、馬個別關稅領域經濟合作協定” (ASTEP 臺星經濟合作協定). Visit the website of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs 經濟部 or International Enterprise Singapore to see the actual text of the agreement.

Earlier this year Taiwan signed a similar agreement with New Zealand (ANZTEC 臺紐經濟合作協定). Singapore is Taiwan’s 5th largest trade partner and 4th largest export market. Singapore maintains Singapore Trade Office in Taipei 新加坡駐台北商務辦事處 to represent its interests in Taiwan. Citizens of the two nations can visit the other nation without a visa and stay up to 30 days. There are multiple airlines operating flights between Taiwan and Singapore.

Taiwan to sign trade agreement with New Zealand

Taiwan and New Zealand will sign an economic cooperation agreement today in Wellington, removing much of trade tariffs between the two nations. A press conference will be held in Taipei at the same time in GIS MOTC Convention Center 集思交通部國際會議中心. Negotiation began in May 2012, followed by studies conducted by both sides on the benefits of such agreement. The agreement is officially between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, the name used by Taiwan in the World Trade Organization, as New Zealand maintains diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and is careful to not to appear to recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan. The full title of the agreement is the “Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation 紐西蘭與臺、澎、金、馬個別關稅領域經濟合作協定” (ANZTEC 臺紐經濟合作協定). Visit the website of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs 經濟部 or the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office to see the actual text of the agreement.

This is the first trade agreement Taiwan signs with a country with which it does not maintain formal diplomatic relations. Taiwan has signed free trade agreements with Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras, which together account for less than one percent of Taiwan’s external trade. Taiwan is New Zealand’s 12th largest export market and 15th largest source of import. New Zealand currently maintains the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office 紐西蘭商工辦事處 in Taipei to represent its interests in Taiwan. Currently citizens of the two nations can visit the other nation without a visa and stay up to 90 days. China Airlines 中華航空 currently operates flight from Taipei to Auckland via Brisbane, Australia.

Negotiation on a similar agreement between Taiwan and Singapore was concluded in May 2013, and both sides are in the process of legal scrubbing.

EVA Airways Joins Star Alliance

Star Alliance

Taiwan’s second largest airlines, EVA Airways 長榮航空, becomes the 28th member of the global airline alliance, Star Alliance 星空聯盟, today at a ceremony held in its hub airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport 臺灣桃園國際機場 (TPE), formerly known as Chiang Kai-shek International Airport 中正國際機場. Founded in 1989, EVA Airways’ passenger fleet consists of Airbus A321-200, Airbus A330-200, Airbus A330-300, Boeing B747-400, and Boeing B777-300ER. EVA Airways also operates freighter Boeing B747-400F and McDonnell Douglas MD-11F as EVA Air Cargo. Currently EVA Airways flies to more than 60 destinations in more than 20 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and Taiwan. Continue reading “EVA Airways Joins Star Alliance”