Taiwan’s China Airlines (CAL), not to be confused with Air China (the flag-carrier of mainland China) will arrive in London Heathrow on March 28.
CAL will operate a three times a week non-stop service between London and Taipei (Taiwan’s capital) using an A340-300 configured for 30 business and 246 economy class seats.
Flight CI70 will depart Heathrow at 2115 every Tuesday and Sunday to arrive in Taipei the next day at 1905. Timings on Thursday are at 2205 and 1905 respectively. Inbound daylight flight CI69 will depart Taipei every Tuesday and Sunday at 0945 to land into Heathrow at 1705. Timings on Thursday are ten minutes earlier.
The Taiwanese flag-carrier’s UK arrival is not before time. Politics can be blamed for the delay. In the past European countries have been wary of granting traffic rights to CAL for fear of upsetting the government of mainland China as the authorities in Beijing consider Taiwan a renegade province.
It meant that UK travellers wishing to fly CAL to Taipei had to board their flights in Amsterdam as Holland was one of the few countries to grant landing rights.
Eva Air (CAL’s privately-owned rival) cleverly circumvented the political issue. It gained international acceptance more quickly because it removed all evidence of Taiwan from its corporate identity and livery. As a result Eva Air has been serving London since the early 1990s.
CAL followed suit some years later. It painted its planes in a neutral “plum blossom” livery in place of the previous colour scheme which featured the Taiwanese flag. That enabled CAL to secure landing rights in, besides Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt and Vienna.
From London Heathrow, CAL will be up against Eva Air which operates larger three-class (business, premium economy and economy class) B777-300ERs to Taipei. But these operate via Bangkok. CAL will also be competing with Cathay Pacific which offers a range of connections via its Hong Kong hub.
British Airways used to serve Taipei in the 1990s with a routing via Hong Kong. But again, for political reasons, these BA flights carried a special livery and the name of “British Asia Airways.”
Like its compatriot Eva Air, CAL is renowned for its keen pricing so check for promotional fares when available.
For more information go to china-airlines.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter