Just a few days after Taiwan has signaled a possible relaxation of its stringent immigration/transit rules, several of the airlines based in the island nation have started to increase flight frequencies on their summer schedule.
China Airlines, Eva Airlines as well as Starlux have sent emails out to their customers with notifications of more flights being available to them in the coming weeks on select routes.
Taiwan has pretty much been a hermit kingdom, in one line with Mainland China for the past 26 months during which both entry for non-resident foreigners as well as even transit through the country’s main airport Taoyuan has been unavailable.
Two days ago John wrote about Taiwanese media reporting that changes to these policies are imminent:
It’s expected that the government is in closer contact with the national air carriers to prepare them and the airport infrastructure for any impending changes so it comes as no surprise that as a result airlines started to beef up their schedules to the most popular destinations such as Thailand.
Here is an example of promotional emails I received in the last 24 hours from China Airlines and Starlux in regards to their South East Asia operations to Bangkok:
China Airlines Taipei-Bangkok route will be back to a 5 day/week rotation. Keep in mind that pre-pandemic there were 4-5 flights between Bangkok and Taipei PER DAY for each of the big carriers (China Airlines/EVA Air) and they both have their own lounge facility at Bangkok Airport.
STARLUX Airlines has introduced the first A330neo wide-body aircraft in Taiwan. It will operate on flights to and from Bangkok and Manila first and join routes to Ho Chi Minh City in mid-June to provide passengers with a more comfortable journey.
Hopefully, this signals a serious approach that Taiwan is actually considering to scrap its nonsensical policy of keeping the country under lock and key for over two years. It’s fascinating that they’re trying so hard to be seen as totally independent from communist China and yet the ONE country they are copying in terms of Covid policy is just that place.
Either way, we’re almost in summer and this is undoubtedly the worst season to visit Taiwan considering the climate there (just like Korea and Japan). Unless one has pressing personal or business reasons to visit the country it probably won’t make much of a difference if they open now or in September/October.
It would make a big difference if Taiwan starts to at least allow transits again as that takes some pressure off Tokyo and Seoul for being the main gateways between North America and South East Asia for the moment.
Following government announcements, Taiwanese airlines have increased frequency to various destinations and are promoting those with special fares to customers. For my part, I’m still skeptical.
Airlines have in the past scheduled flights, let people book and pay just to later cancel flights again, and then let customers wait forever for their refunds. I would therefore not recommend booking anything before a firm policy is in place that allows either transiting in Taipei again or allows actual entry into Taiwan.