Palau has been entertaining for these past weeks the possibility of more airlines flying into the country. “So far there are two airlines who are applying to fly to Palau” stated Peter Polloi who is a senior advisor on aviation matters, Bureau of aviation. These two airlines are namely: Tigeair Taiwan and Palau Pacific Airways. On March 29 and 30th, 2 public hearings were conducted by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Industries to inform and educate the public about such plans.
Tigerair Taiwan is a low-cost carrier that focus on short haul markets. It is a subsidiary of the well-known China airlines. With 11 fleet of A320 planes in their possession capable of transporting up to 180 passengers each; it aims to diversify its market into Palau beginning next month. “Our future plan is to operate 5 flights per week starting on the 28th of April” said Kevin, representative of Tigerair Taiwan. The airline is presenting its flights to be on days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sundays. They are proposing to fly on time slots 11:30am-16:45(4:45pm) from Taipei, Taiwan to Palau and 17:45(5:45pm)-20:50(8:50PM) from Palau to Taipei, Taiwan according to their official presentation.
In conjunction, Palau Express also applied to fly to Palau. This Palau incorporated airline business is showing big ambitions as it plans to produce 7 flights to the island per week. “This means daily flights a week” mentioned Johnson Toribiong who is the chairman of the Palau Express’ board of directors. Palau Express is also working towards transporting about 50,000 travelers annually to Palau through this air service. The round-trip ticket through this airline will cost about 700 US dollars. In Answering questions from the media, the representative of Palau Express revealed that the first flight is aimed to commence in June this year.
Questions raised for these air travel providers included concerns regarding covid-19 risks; where they answered that “we will implement robust full cabin sterilization of our plane”. This will be an additional health security on top of the required PCR test that Palau requires of all travelers coming from Taiwan.
Both public hearings did not have much participation from the public. Only two members of the press were in attendance representing a local media outlet on the first hearing. Consistently, on the 2th day of the hearing, only 3 reporters were present representing 2 news media. These public hearings were conducted virtually with each airlines’ respective partners and representatives joining in from Taiwan. Both hearings took place at the public works building.