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Songshan, Taoyuan airports must be developed in tandem



However, many argue that increased government spending on fixed infrastructure will not be as efficacious to the airport as improvements in policymaking, human capital and other intangibles. The opening of Songshan’s express cargo shipping services is an example of this, far outweighing the benefits of additional passenger flights.


One way of capitalizing on such an important development is linking bonded transport between Songshan and the storage facilities at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. This would help resolve Songshan’s problem of insufficient cargo storage space, and help support the plan to develop the Taoyuan Aerotropolis.


But responsibility for developing Songshan’s cargo shipping services should not be shouldered by the relevant transportation agencies alone. I
t requires the combined efforts of all government departments, such as customs officials, aviation security officers and other agencies.


It is important for the
development of Taipei Songshan airport to take its big brother at Taoyuan into consideration. To this end, the Civil Aeronautics Administration under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications should adhere to the “small is beautiful” spirit of Songshan when pondering further development of the airport. Otherwise, it will be unclear which facility takes precedent as the national port of entry, thus creating possible conflicts in the development of the two airports.


In terms of air route operations,
all capital airports focus on servicing domestic flights and those connecting with capitals in neighboring countries. For instance, Tokyo Haneda Airport operates only Japanese domestic routes and international flights to Gimpo International Airport in South Korea and Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. This model is worthy of Taiwan’s attention and could serve as a template for future airport development.


When examining connecting transportation, it is worth comparing the interconnectivity of the primary and secondary airports in Japan and South Korea. For example,
South Korea’s Incheon International and Gimpo airports are now connected to the Seoul metropolitan area by subways.


The relationship between Taiwan’s Songshan and Taoyuan airports, however, is more akin to
that between Narita and Haneda airports in Japan. The two airports are operated independently and there are no interconnecting transportation links.


I
n addition to taking advantage of Songshan’s prime location and spurring development in the greater Taipei area, the next important issue will be how to develop commercial opportunities facilitating connections between international and domestic flights at Taoyuan.


An area the government must address is simplifying procedures for passengers originating
from Shanghai but transferring at Songshan en route to other cities in Taiwan. Managing flights to and from Songshan should not be limited to a model of point-to-point flights between capital cities; rather, it should try to extend tourism and other real benefits tostimulate growth in other cities islandwide.


After the creation of proposed capital air routes, a management team with a broader vision for operating the international airport
is needed. In November, an initial step in reaching this goal will be taken with the establishment of a state-owned company to manage and operate Taoyuan airport.


Regarding management of Taiwan’s airports, two
suggestions are on offer. First, to facilitate coordinated development between Songshan and Taoyuan, the Taipei facility should be included in the state-run firm’s management plans. This would head off a situation where the two airports are competing for passengers and cargo volumes due to overlapping business plans.

In addition, the airports should seek international managementand set a mandatory retirement age of 55 for employees. The former was implemented at Hangzhou Airport, which hired the management team fromChek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong, and the latter at Incheon airport.

The launch of Taipei-Shanghai flights is evidence thatwhat has been achieved at Gimpo, Haneda and Hongqiao can be repeated in Taiwan as well.It is expected that with the opening of additional capital air services, the nation’s airports will be further improved and attract a succession of new business opportunities.
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