How China rescued Taiwan with airline project

Written by By Staff Writer

What do you do when you’re strapped into an airplane seat with the world’s most perilous journey in front of you?

Stare up at the sky and contemplate moving heaven and earth to bring you a balloon ride instead of trying to avoid the crash site of a lost mechanical engine — both were “failures” at New Taipei Airlines’ first destination.

The No. 2 flight-time-value (ATDV) airline, based in Taiwan’s capital, began ferrying passengers to distant destinations last year from northern bases in the North.

CNN’s Adam Stevens speaks with passengers about their experiences on the new flight-time-value airline, New Taipei Airlines.

Carrying a total of 500 passengers a day, the airline “came alive” in April this year, according to its spokeswoman, Han Kuo-yu.

Much of the fuel that powers and maintains its fleet of three Airbus A330-200 aircraft has been sourced from scrap yards in Beijing, she added.

“We used scrap pieces as free fuel because scrap metal from China has a long life span, so we don’t get any costs (for use of the fuel). It’s like free money.”

Passengers can disembark from New Taipei Airlines’ first flight-time-value (ATDV) airline from northern bases in the North. Courtesy New Taipei Airlines

New Taipei Airlines (NJA) is the brainchild of Chen Ruoji, a millionaire businessman who spent five years designing, developing and building the airline.

The journey to Taiwan from China is a brutal one, CN Aerospace explains. Based on current rates, it takes about 15 hours to fly from Beijing to Taipei. The return trip takes 21 hours and 40 minutes.

NYA will offer nonstop flights from China and Hong Kong to Taiwan.

No need to waste precious time or money. Some of the airline’s investors include a Chinese state-owned natural gas giant — Chen claims his family in mainland China invested 500 million renminbi ($82 million) in the company — and a group of investors from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The planes on NJA are largely powered by fuel from scrap yards in Beijing, courtesy of an investor from the mainland. Courtesy New Taipei Airlines

According to Chen, launching a flight-time-value airline with a terminal in north Taipei is a chance to bring the city closer to mainland China.

“There is a lot of opportunity (in north Taipei) — a lot of businesses come from the next door, and people do business with China from there. But it’s difficult for them to take long-distance flights.”

Explaining the idea behind his plan, Chen told CNN that the alternative would be to lease cargo planes from the mainland. “They want to start working with Taiwan, but their first plane would be used on Chinese flights to Taiwan, but it’s not convenient for them.”

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