EVA Air is banking on cargo and charter flights, including fly-to-nowhere services, to help it ride through the pandemic.

With Taiwan’s borders shut to all but a handful of travellers, the Star Alliance member is operating a “bare skeleton network”, according to an investor presentation.

In the third quarter, EVA Air reported a net loss of NT$1.8 billion (US$63.9 million). Its operating revenue dropped to NT$18.4 billion (US$652.8 million), a decline of 59.6 per cent, and passenger load factor fell 28.7 per cent with just one in two seats filled.

While EVA Air’s executive vice president Liao Chi-wei does not expect passenger traffic to rebound until late 2021, its cargo division has done exceptionally well.

Prior to the pandemic, the airline only had five Boeing 777 cargo aircraft. To meet rising demand, EVA Air removed seats on 12 B777 passenger aircraft and converted them into freighters, according to the Taipei Times. Its cargo revenue has soared 91 per cent year-on-year to NT$44.1 billion (US$1.56 billion).

Additionally, the carrier plans to launch more charter flights. This includes corporates and flights-to-nowhere, following discussions with Taiwan’s transport ministry. These measures will help EVA Air ride out the storm until border controls ease, according to Liao.

EVA Air’s president Clay Sun hopes the Taiwanese government will soon look into replacing mandatory quarantines with testing or travel bubble agreements, according to the Taipei Times.