History of Development

Taiwan is about 145 kilometers away from mainland China, about 1,040 kilometers from Japan to the north, about 544 kilometers to the southwest from Hong Kong, and about 320 kilometers from the Philippines. It is located at the transportation hub of East Asia and the Western Pacific, flying with Hong Kong, Manila and Naha. The flight information region is connected to the international route and has a moderate geographical position. However, because of the large number of mountains in Taiwan, the lack of land, the narrowness of the land, and the particularity of the military strategic position, the development of civil aviation is limited in Taiwan.
Taiwan is surrounded by the sea, and air transportation is almost the most important choice for international transportation. In 2017, the number of passengers entering and leaving the airport in Taiwan was 65.98 million (an average of 181,000 per day), an increase of 4.3% over 2016. Among them, international routes (including Hong Kong and Macao) passengers. 4,403,000 person-times, an increase of 8.1% compared with 2016; 16.04 million passengers on the two sides of the strait, a decrease of 7.2% compared with 2016; 11.1 million passengers on domestic routes, an increase of 2.3% over 2016; and 410,000 passengers crossing, a decrease of 5.7 over the previous year %.
The development of civil aviation in Taiwan is basically divided into four major stages:

  • The first stage: The "Pioneering Period" traced back to 1947
  • The second stage: The "Growth Period" began in 1973
  • The third stage:  The “Open-Sky Period” began in 1986, and it began to be a critical period for the rapid development of civil aviation in Taiwan.
  • The fourth stage: The "Competition Period" began in 2007, competition with the transportation of high-speed rail and freeway.

The Pioneering Period: it was the first stage of Taiwan's civil aviation development from 1947 to 1972. The Civil Aeronautics Administration of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications was established in January 1947, and the "Civil Aviation Law" was promulgated in 1953. At this time, Taiwan used Taipei Songshan Airport as an international airport and Tainan Airport as an auxiliary airport. Later, some airlines joined the operation.

The Taipei Flight Information Region was established in July 1953. Since 1962, Taipei Songshan Airport has begun to expand, and the network structure of Taiwan's domestic routes has begun to take shape. Some airlines have begun to operate domestic routes, and the air transportation business has taken shape and has begun to develop steadily.
During this period, due to the support of military missions by the airlines, many charter flights suffered from artillery attacks, and there were also several passenger flight crashes caused by human factors or mechanical factors. During the period, the general aviation enterprise began to develop, and several helicopter crashes occurred in agricultural spraying operations.

The Growth Period: it was the second stage of Taiwan's civil aviation development from 1973 to 1985. The government had actively prepared for the construction of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport since 1973. During this period, due to the lack of Taiwan's road transportation capacity, the rapid growth of domestic air transportation, the annual passengers reached 2.38 million peaks in 1974. Subsequently, due to the opening of the Sun Yat-sen Freeway, the electrification of the Western Railway, and the completion of the Eastern North-link Line Railway, domestic air passenger flight in Taiwan began to decline for four consecutive years. 
During this period, the civil aviation grew with the economic increasing and people going abroad for sightseeing, and the outlying islands air traffic network was gradually established. The outlying island transportation and the offshore petroleum mining business had some accidents due to the nature of the mission and the harsh environment of the outlying islands. Also, two jet accidents due to human factors and maintenance factors had occurred in civil aviation transportation.

The Open-Sky Period: it was the third stage of Taiwan's civil aviation development from 1985 to the end of 2006. Many airlines were established due to the government implemented the "open skies" policy in 1987. In 1997, the air transportation reached 18.6 million passengers, more than five times of the year 1987. The number of flight hours and departures began to decline due to factors such as the economic downturn and the Civil Aeronautics Administration's strengthening of Aviation Safety management. The flight hours in 2000 decreased by 2.40% compared with 1999, and the number of departures was reduced by 9.20%. During this period, there were more than ten major accidents. The general aviation enterprise also had several helicopter crashes. The public began to pay attention to the aviation safety issues, which led to the establishment of the Aviation Safety Council in 1998.

The Competition Period: The Taiwan high speed railway began its business in 2007, resulting in changes in Taiwan's island transportation behavior. The number of other transportation vehicles in western Taiwan has rapidly decreased, with aviation being the most affected.
There have been scheduled flights of a certain scale from Taipei to Kaohsiung or Tainan, but the domestic airlines in the western of Taiwan island have all been closed.