Taiwan pulls out all stops for new airline

Taiwan may welcome a new airline before the end of the year. Devised by Eva Airways ex-chairman Chang Kuo-wei, a new carrier could be established by the end of 2017, after the Ministry of Transportation loosened requirements and restrictions.

The ministry on Friday approved the second submission of proposals for adjustments to current regulations from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). The adjustments removed obstacles for Chang to start an airline.

Under existing regulations, any company applying to operate civil aviation services in Taiwan must have been in the international transportation or trade sectors for at least five years, generating more than NT$6 billion (US$197.5 million) per year in revenue.

The adjustments eliminate such requirements. Instead, the regulations will require applicants to show a financial balance of NT$6 billion, obtain at least three aircraft and have a qualified management team.

The CAA earlier said that it made adjustments to the regulations because they were drafted more than 20 years ago and might be outdated.

However, the move has drawn criticism from industry insiders who say it is unfair.

The CAA first sent the adjustment proposals to the ministry on Sept. 8, but they were rejected, as the ministry said the revisions should have been reviewed in the context of related civil aviation regulations.

Nieh Kuo-wei, a former EVA Air spokesman and a close associate of Chang, told reporters that a full operation plan is to be submitted to the CAA to establish the airline after the revisions take effect, which is expected to happen within two months.

Chang became chairman of EVA Air in January 2013, but when his father, Evergreen Group founder Chang Jung-fa, died in January last year, a war of succession erupted among his children and Chang Kuo-wei was removed from the chairman post.

He was replaced by Steve Lin, a long-serving Evergreen executive, and no longer holds any executive position in the group.