China Airlines launched Kaohsiung-Kumamoto and Kaohsiung-Fukuoka flights on October 25 and 26. This expands regular return services to Kyushu to four prefectures, Fukuoka, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Kumamoto. If one counts Mandarin Airlines' new Taichung-Oita charter flights in October and November, as well as occasional charter flights to Nagasaki and Saga, this means the China Airlines Group is now bases loaded on all seven prefectures in Kyushu. The launch of the Tainan-Osaka service on October 28 brings the total number of China Airlines Group destinations in Japan to 14, with 188 flights a week, giving travelers more options for traveling to Japan.
To celebrate the launch of the Kaohsiung-Kumamoto service, China Airlines and the Kumamoto Prefectural Government hosted launch ceremonies at Kaohsiung Airport and Kumamoto Airport today to welcome the 158 passengers flying on the inaugural “Hail Kumamoto" themed flight. The flying time between Taiwan and Kyushu is a little over two hours and there is a convenient transport network linking each prefecture. Kumamoto Prefecture is an important agricultural region in Kyushu with a well-developed livestock industry. The Aso Volcano in northeast Kumamoto is unique because of its large size and intact caldera. Famous sights in Kumamoto include the Aso Volcano Museum, South Aso Railway, Kumamon Office, the nostalgic Edo “A-Train", dolphin watching at Amakusa, the Kumamoto Kumamon Train, and Kumamoto Castle, one of the top three castles in Japan.
Sun Huang-shiang, chairman of China Airlines, said that the airline holds a 36% market share in Japan routes. Its Japan network is also the largest and most extensive of any airline in Taiwan. The fact that Japan accounts for 20% of China Airlines revenue only emphasizes its importance. Since the signing of the Open Skies agreement between Taiwan and Japan in 2011, travel between the two regions has continued to grow. Annual passenger loadings on the Japan routes have exceeded 80% and the market outlook continues to be optimistic.
Sun added that China Airlines has been working closely with Kumamoto Prefecture since 2013. This cooperation has progressively increased, growing from occasional to regular charter flights and now to regular services. The launch of regular Kaohsiung-Kumamoto services is important for two reasons: first is the growing maturity of the Kyushu travel market and its tremendous future potential; second is the solid customer base in southern Taiwan. The airline will continue to evaluate market demand and aircraft dispatching in the future with an eye to new routes. China Airlines is actively developing the southern Taiwan departures market. These include Tainan to Hong Kong and Osaka services (starting 10/28), as well as Kaohsiung to Pudong (Shanghai), Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Beijing, Changsha, Chongqing, Nanchang, Changzhou, Incheon (Seoul), Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Osaka, Tokyo, Okinawa, Hokkaido, Kumamoto (starting 10/25), and Fukuoka (starting 10/26) services, for a total of 20 destinations. China Airlines account for 50% of all flights departing from Kaohsiung and is therefore the undisputed “King of Southern Departures." (2015/10/25)