United Airlines resumed its non-stop flight service between Taiwan’s capital, Taipei and its US West Coast hub, San Francisco at the end of March. United Airlines used to operate that route before the global financial crisis in 2008. United Airlines used to serve Taipei via its hub in Tokyo.
In addition to United Airlines resuming nonstop service, Taiwan’s second largest airline, EVA Air, is expected to increase its capacity across the pacific this year by a dramatic 22%. The Taiwanese airline currently serves New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle with a total of 39 flights per week. By the end of this summer, the number will increase to 47 flights per week.
The increase of air traffic between the two countries is likely a response to Taiwan joining the United States’ Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in 2012. In the first year of joining the VWP, a total of 385,000 Taiwanese travelled to the United States, an increase of 33% from the previous year. As a result, Taiwan also re-entered the top twenty largest sources of tourists to the United States. The US Department of Commerce expects the number of Taiwanese tourists traveling to the United States will increase by 52% from 2014 to 2018.
Jefferson Lee is a Graduate Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington.