Taiwanese to get cheaper flights, electricity, cooking oil as oil prices slide

TAIPEI (China Post/Asia News Network) - Taiwan's domestic airlines will offer discounted fares starting next week, thanks to declining fuel prices, the island's Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has announced.

Domestic air carriers have agreed to reduce fares even though fuel costs have yet to drop below the set price-adjustment point, MOTC Deputy Minister Chen Chien-yu said on Thursday.

According to preliminary reports from four domestic carriers, fares of more than half of off-peak domestic flights will be 45 percent cheaper.

Uni Air may offer an off-peak flight from the central city of Taichung to the offshore island of Kinmen at NT$1,199 (S$50.28), reduced from NT$2,191. A one-way trip from Taipei, in the island's north, to the eastern coast of Taitung, via Mandarin Airlines will cost an estimated NT$1,345, down from NT$2,462.

All prices were to be submitted to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) on Friday morning, posted on the companies' websites by noon and be available from Dec. 15, according to the CAA.

International oil prices have been falling steadily over the past few months, leading to diesel prices sliding by NT$1.3 per litre this month to their lowest levels in five years.

The cheaper airfares will be in place until the end of January, said the CAA, adding that if international crude costs continue to decline, prices may be reduced further

The transportation ministry also said that if oil prices decline through December, there will be a fare adjustment for bus fares as early as mid-January.

If diesel drops below NT$24.8 per litre, road passenger services will have room to lower fares by 2.2 percent.

SUGAR AND ELECTRICITY

On Wednesday, the government-run Taiwan Power Co. also said it could provide rebates to its customers.

Cheaper fuel has allowed the company to generate about NT$20 billion in profits, said company spokesman Roger Lee.

Legislators are scheduled to review Taipower's programme next week; if passed, an initial rebate of NT$9 billion will take effect.

For the average household, this means a monthly rebate of about NT$13.86 for some 330 kilowatt-hours.

Taiwan Sugar Corporation is also expected to reduce prices on products like soybean oil, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.