Taiwan’s ambitious new carrier ‘flies’ with X

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A woman enjoys a drink at one of the low-cost airlines’ lounges In January, Taiwanese ultra-low-cost carrier Peach launched its maiden flights – including a flight to Tianguo…

Taiwan's ambitious new carrier 'flies' with X

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A woman enjoys a drink at one of the low-cost airlines’ lounges

In January, Taiwanese ultra-low-cost carrier Peach launched its maiden flights – including a flight to Tianguo on Taiwan’s Far-Eastern island of Hainan.

Such is the ambition of the airline, which takes its name from a legend popular in Taiwan, that it has installed a remote-controlled hamlet in the sky to demonstrate to potential passengers that its planes are “human-rated”.

The airborne village is comprised of 18 737 aircraft, each capable of accommodating around 200 passengers and 14 crew.

The airline has also acquired five turboprop planes that can accommodate 100 passengers.

Image copyright Peach Taiwanese ultra-low-cost carrier Peach has purchased eight B737-800s and two ATR 72-600s

So far, flights to Hainan are mainly charter flights from popular tourist destinations such as Taoyuan or Kunming in China, as well as offering day trips to China’s neighbouring islands.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The airline has also shown off its “plastic village” – a hanger full of flights for people to watch

But the airline is also aiming to capitalise on the island’s growing tourism, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

Wendy Chi, Peach’s marketing manager, told the BBC that in order to attract tourists with low fares, the airline will introduce boutique hotels in the form of travel malls, and introduce food and drink services to rival the large industry players, such as Asiana Airlines.

Image copyright Peach Image caption The airline’s CEO has high hopes for the new business

After the launch of the first Airbus A320ceo in October, Peach aims to receive an average of 20 B737-800 aircraft, with the first Airbuses arriving this year.

By 2020, Peach has projected that it will have 30 aircraft.

The airline also plans to buy up to 14 ATR 72-600 aircraft, which would augment the fleet, as well as codeshare agreements to operate with Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

However, the company must show that it can out-compete its foreign rivals on service levels in order to put itself in a better position to win more customers.

This is also vital as the airline’s ambition is only possible with the help of a wider partnership with another carrier.

“We are a big airline in Taiwan and we have competitors,” explained Mr Li, “Now we need to bring a bigger airline to fly with us because it would be better for us to have strategic partners for us in China and Hong Kong.”

Earlier this year, Peach secured a deal with Hong Kong’s Wing Star to provide ticketing, while Fincantieri Aerospace signed a memorandum of understanding with the airline to provide avionics.

Also in 2017, the airline signed an agreement with Airbus and Spain’s Iberia to jointly develop its service for the international market.

“We plan to bring European airliners in our planes,” said Mr Li.

As Peach gears up for its planned rapid expansion, the airline does face challenges.

Image copyright Peach Image caption Peach’s new aircraft can carry almost 200 passengers

While local demand for air travel is on the rise, excess capacity may keep consumer prices flat, says Professor Shi Kuang-zhi, president of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Paris.

“Erecting one plane per kilometre is too much and increases price pressure on passengers,” he said.

“But as they introduce new aircraft they have capacity to increase the number of passengers in their flights.”

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