By Albert Kuan
EVA Air Resumes Daily Service to Los Angeles Due to Taiwan Covid-19 Scare
Beginning June 7, EVA Air will resume flying to Los Angeles once daily — up from only operating the service three times per week — in response to demand from ethnic and overseas Taiwanese returning to the U.S. The sudden change in EVA Air’s operations plan is due to the current Covid-19 outbreak in Taiwan and the wide availability of vaccines in the U.S. Many ethnic and overseas Taiwanese in the U.S. who returned to Taiwan to escape the pandemic are now rushing back to flee the outbreak and get vaccinated.
Taiwan is currently battling its worst outbreak of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. With the majority of cases being in the capital, many restrictions and closures have been imposed on Taipei and surrounding New Taipei since mid-May to control local transmission. Both cities are under a semi-lockdown — with Level 3 restrictions — which remains in effect until June 14. International air travelers are also no longer able to transit in Taiwan until at least June 18.
Both China Airlines and EVA Air have reported a sudden surge of travelers booking flights to the U.S. since mid-May when the outbreak began. According to local Taiwanese media, Formosa TV News Network, the number of travelers leaving Taiwan for the U.S. increased by 40% in May compared to the previous month. A total of 8,346 travelers left in May, compared to only 5,946 travelers in April. Around 80% of these travelers are Taiwanese citizens.
EVA Air originally operated its Los Angeles service three times weekly, down from operating up to three flights daily before Covid-19. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in Taiwan, the Taiwanese carrier already had plans to resume daily flights to Los Angeles by July. The former reason for resuming daily flights was to accommodate the demand for travel to Taiwan from the U.S. during the summer and the Taiwanese government’s proposal to shorten the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for inbound travelers to seven days.
China Airlines, EVA Air’s competitor, in light of not being able to accommodate more service due to its pilot shortage, is only able to increase it frequency by one flight per week. The carrier will only operate service to Los Angeles on Sundays and Thursdays. The service is still operated by the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER jets, however, which are the highest capacity jets in the airline’s fleet. EVA Air flies its Boeing 777-300ER jets on the Los Angeles service as well.
China Airlines will also be resuming service to Ontario International Airport on June 8, the only schedule released for booking by the airline thus far. The service will be operated by the airline’s Airbus A350-900 jet.
Due to the high demand, round-trip, non-stop flights from Taipei to Los Angeles on either EVA Air or China Airlines are priced at more than $2,400. According to industry insiders, most of EVA Air’s flights to Los Angeles in June are almost fully booked, including business class and premium economy class. Before the outbreak, EVA Air told AirlineGeeks they sell only up to 50% or 75% of its seats to maintain as much social distancing for its customers. EVA Air didn’t provide confirmation to AirlineGeeks as to whether that is still their protocol in light of the heavy demand. China Airlines didn’t confirm whether it fills its planes to capacity either, but they allow travelers to book an empty seat or row for a separate cost.
Taiwan originally had success in controlling Corvid-19. Before the mid-May outbreak, the country had a total of only 1,475 cases, which were mostly inbound travelers arriving from abroad, and only 12 deaths. The total number of locally spread cases has more than tripled in the last week to around 300 to 500 cases daily. As of June 5, Taiwan has reported 10,956 cases and 225 deaths in total.