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EVA Air expects airfares to remain high into 2024 H1

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EVA Air expects airfares to remain high into 2024 H1

Airfares are expected to remain high until at least the end of the first half of 2024 due to strong demand for air travel, Taiwanese carrier EVA Airways said Monday.

EVA Air has seen strong demand for passenger flight services during the winter break from late January to mid-February, with over 90 percent of seats on Japan-bound flights having been booked, Clay Sun (孫嘉明), president of the carrier, said at an investor conference Monday.

"Travel agencies continue to ask for more seats," Sun said, adding that similarly strong bookings have been seen on flights destined for Thailand and Vietnam.

Taiwanese tourists can now visit Thailand visa-free and in August Vietnam lowered the cost of a multi-entry electronic visa for all foreign visitors -- including Taiwanese, he said.

The company's long-haul flights have also maintained 90-percent passenger loads since the beginning of the year, Sun said, declaring that "the future is promising."

As the recovery of air passenger demand has continued, capacity had yet to rebound to the level seen before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sun said, noting that the pace of recovery in the Asia-Pacific region has lagged farther behind than in other areas.

Given these factors, rising operating costs and high fuel prices, Sun said airfares are expected to remain high in the short term.

The one area of the current travel landscape that remains weak is China because of mutual bans or restrictions on group tours between Taiwan and China.

Yet while EVA Air's China-bound flights currently tend to be only 55-60 percent full, Taiwan's ban on group tours to China is set to be lifted in March, according to Sun.

The Taiwanese carrier now flies to multiple locations in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Chengdu, and plans to increase its number of weekly flights to Hangzhou from three to seven, and to Shenzhen from three to five when the summer schedule begins in March, he said.

In terms of the carrier's cargo business, Sun said EVA Air is scheduled to take delivery of its ninth Boeing 777F in 2024, which will enable the carrier to add cargo flights to meet market growth driven by e-commerce.

As part of the carrier's efforts to renew its fleet, EVA Air will take delivery of 18 Airbus A350-1000s from 2026 to 2030 and 15 Airbus A321neos between 2029 and 2032, according to Sun.

EVA Air is expected to have a fleet of 88 planes as of the end of this year, he said.

In comparison, EVA Air's main domestic rival, Taiwan-based China Airlines, had 83 planes as of Oct. 31, including a cargo fleet of 21 jets, and it is also undergoing a fleet renewal.

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