Taiwan’s Newest Airline Prepares To Launch


Even during an uncertain time in the aviation industry, Taiwan has revealed plans for a start-up airline to emerge. Kinmen Airlines is set to be based in Kinmen County, an island governed by the Republic of China. The airline has plans to take off in October in a five-phase development project.

Taiwan’s new startup airline will be based in Kinmen County. Photo: Kinmen Airport

Located just six kilometres away from China, Kinmen County is a strategic location for the new airline. According to Focus Taiwan, one of the airline’s investors, Tsai Chuan-Cheng, explained that an airline based in the island has been long-awaited.

“Given that a large number of families from Kinmen live in Southeast Asian countries, it is critical that Kinmen has its own airline to serve its people through a more comprehensive air travel network,” he noted.


Helping businesses across Taiwan and China

Taiwan News reported in late May that the airline’s investors had earmarked over $168m to fund its establishment. The investors are Taiwanese businesspeople who find that Kinmen’s strategic location between China and Taiwan will serve them well.

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Publisert av 陳滄江 Tirsdag 21. april 2020

The new airline will thus come to the aid of these businesspeople who require constant travel between the two countries.

Former Kinmen councilor, Chen Tsang-Chiang, and businessman Tsai are among the investors who see the need for Kinmen Airlines’ signature route. The emergence of Kinmen Airlines will not only help established business people, but younger budding entrepreneurs to connect to the Chinese market.

Tsai explained that “the launch of Kinmen Airlines will bring numerous job opportunities to young locals and connect Kinmen businesses to the Chinese market.”

Plans for Kinmen Airlines

At the end of May, Focus Taiwan announced that a logo is in the works for the airline. The finalized logo for Kinmen Airlines was uploaded to social media yesterday.

In October, there will be an establishment ceremony, along with the start of a five-phase journey to development. For instance, the airline will need to conduct at least 50 hours of flying tests and rehearsals before allowed to fly commercially.

As for aircraft, the investors have told Focus Taiwan that they have not confirmed which aircraft will be utilized. However, back in March, they hinted at using ATR 72-600s, which are typical for routes between Kinmen and Taiwan. Both Taiwanese-based Mandarin Airlines and UNI Air employ ATR 72-600 planes for trips between the two destinations.

Taipei Taiwan UNI Air
Taipei-based UNI Air flies ATR 72-600s for routes between Taiwanese cities and Kinmen. Photo: 玄史生 via Wikimedia

Additionally, Kinmen’s location will make it convenient for locals to explore other countries. Tsai explained that the new airline would enable residents to “fly across the Taiwan Strait and explore the whole world.”

Currently, those living in Kinmen County have to transit in Taipei or other Taiwanese cities before they can fly internationally. Kinmen will introduce a more straightforward method for residents to travel outside of Taiwan.

Taiwan’s unlucky start-up airline

While the investors behind Kinmen Airlines are confident its tactical route will perform well, Taiwan’s most recent start-up venture had to suspend operations in a mere two months. Start-up airline, Starlux, commenced operations in January this year – right before the virus outbreak plagued the industry. Started from sibling rivalry, CEO Chang Kuo-Wei has hopes for Starlux to become the ‘Emirates of Taiwan’.

Taiwan based Starlux Airlines
The Taiwanese start-up airline operates flights to destinations in Southeast Asia. Photo: Starlux Airlines

However, in March, Starlux was down to just one return flight to Da Nang daily. Two weeks later, the airline had to ground its entire fleet due to non-existent travel demand.

This month Starlux has relaunched, flying to Malaysia, Da Nang, and Penang. Let’s hope the second time’s the charm for this Taiwan-based start-up.

For Kinmen, it seems that commencing operations in October will also rely on how the coronavirus pandemic pans out by then.

Do you think Kinmen Airlines’ launch will succeed? Will you book a flight on this new start-up airline? Let us know in the comments.

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