The Civil Aeronautics Adminis-tration (CAA) said yesterday that it has approved Uni Air's (立榮航空) application to cancel all of its flights between Taipei and Kaohsiung, effective from March.
Four domestic airliners jointly provide 22 daily flights between Taipei and Kaohsiung. Uni provides two round-trip flights a day.
This would be the third approval for flight cancellations issued by the CAA since last year when Mandarin canceled its Taipei-Taichung flight in August and Uni canceled its Taipei-Chiayi route in October.
Lin said yesterday that passenger loads on all domestic flights along the west coast have declined since the high speed rail began operation in March last year.
The reduction in services along the west coast corridor is to be expected as a result of competition from the HSR service. However, the article also notes that "Mandarin Airlines has recently applied to suspend flights between Taichung and Taitung." This route would not face any competition from the HSR. It does seem to be part of an overall trend though.
This graph of passenger numbers at Hualian Airport from 1974 to 2006 tells an interesting tale. The first period of decline from 1980 is related to the opening of the north link railway line which provided a new and convenient way to travel between Hualian and Taipei. The decline from 1997 on is a little more difficult to explain. I previously noted a similar decline in traffic from Songshan Airport and attributed it to improvements to the road network, increased levels of car ownership and the deregulation of inter-city bus services. However, these don't provide such a good explanation for what has happened in Hualian.
It seems that there has been a shift in people's preferred mode of transport during this period. Most likely this has been to private cars although buses may have had some effect too. I doubt it has anything to do with awareness of the environmental impacts of air travel.
Update: More news on the issue: Domestic airlines apply to end flights.