Hong Kong To Taipei: The World’s Most Exciting Route?

Could Hong Kong to Taipei be one of the world’s most exciting routes, at least historically? In the past decade, it often had 30+ daily passenger departures from each end, with large numbers of widebodies used. This is despite being just 501 miles and having a flight time of about 90 minutes. On one day in May 2012, there were 42 departures – 95% by widebodies.

Hong Kong To Taipei: The World’s Most Exciting Route?
On May 28th, 2012, there were 42 departures from Hong Kong to Taipei. Cathay Pacific had 17, including four by the B747-400. Photo: Getty Images.

Hong Kong had a crucial role to play

Given flights were not permitted between China and Taiwan, those flying between the two had to fly via somewhere en route. Hong Kong was extremely important for this, followed by Macau.

Hong Kong’s importance as a gateway began to wane as China-Taiwan services were permitted. Initially, only limited charters were allowed, while scheduled flights could operate from 2009. Things have changed dramatically. By 2019, 18 airlines had non-stop service, with 95 routes involving 54 airports in China and five in Taiwan. Seats surpassed 13.5 million, OAG data confirms.

As China-Taiwan capacity rose, Hong Kong-Taiwan declined, although it remains hugely important for point-to-point demand and connections to Taiwan from other countries.

Indeed, there were still more than 10.4 million seats from Hong Kong in 2019, equivalent to over 28,000 each day – a phenomenal amount. (New York JFK and Newark to Los Angeles had 6.3 million.) While Hong Kong was connected with four airports in Taiwan, it was obviously all about Taipei.

Hong Kong To Taipei: The World’s Most Exciting Route?
EVA Air had three B747-400 combi departures from Hong Kong to Taipei. Photo: Getty Images.

On May 28th, 2012

This article is being written on May 28th, 2021. While it now feels a long time ago, on this same day in 2012, 42 passenger flights departed from Hong Kong to Taipei. Five airlines offered non-stop service, broken down as:

  1. Cathay Pacific: 17 departures
  2. China Airlines: 12
  3. EVA Air: seven
  4. Hong Kong Airlines: three
  5. Dragonair (later Cathay Dragon which later ceased operating): three
Hong Kong To Taipei: The World’s Most Exciting Route?
The A340-300 was an important aircraft on this route. Photo: Getty Images.

95% of departures were by widebodies

Some 40 of these 42 departures were by widebodies. Of course, all of Cathay Pacific’s were, along with all but one by China Airlines and Dragonair. Across all 42 departures, there was an average of 302 seats, from 338 with Cathay Pacific to ‘just’ 231 with Dragonair, examining OAG data reveals.

Eight widebody types were used that day, one less than from Doha to Dubai a few years later. With 12 departures, the A330-300 was the most common, as shown below. It was so dominant as Cathay, China Airlines, and Dragonair all deployed it. Quads had 14 departures across the B747 and the A340. Cathay had four departures by both the A340-300 and the B747-400.

  • A330-300: 12 departures
  • A330-200: six
  • A340-300: six
  • B747-400: five
  • B777-200: four
  • B747-400E: three
  • B777-300: three
  • B777-300ER: one
Hong Kong To Taipei: The World’s Most Exciting Route?
The A330-300 had almost three in ten of the departures on this day. Photo: Getty Images

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42 departures on that day

On that May 2012 day, Taipei was one of 97 destinations served non-stop from Hong Kong, which rose to 106 if one-stops are included. The Taiwanese capital had about 10% of Hong Kong’s departures, further showing how crucial it was.

The day’s schedule was as follows, with up to four departures an hour. There were just two by narrowbodies: an A320 scheduled at 08:15 and a B737-800 at 11:40.

Departure time from Hong KongAirlineAircraft
07:25Cathay PacificA340-300
08:15China AirlinesA330-300
08:35Cathay Pacific B747-400
09:10Cathay Pacific A340-300
09:50EVA AirA330-200
10:00Cathay Pacific A330-300
11:05China AirlinesB747-400
11:10EVA AirB747-400E
11:15Cathay Pacific A330-300
11:40China AirlinesB737-800
12:05Hong Kong AirlinesA330-200
12:30Cathay Pacific B777-200
12:50China AirlinesA340-300
13:20Cathay PacificB777-300
13:25China AirlinesA330-300
13:35Cathay Pacific A340-300
13:45EVA AirA330-200
14:15China AirlinesA330-300
14:25Cathay Pacific B777-300
14:55Cathay Pacific B777-300
15:30EVA AirB777-300ER
15:35China AirlinesA330-300
15:55Cathay PacificA340-300
16:30Cathay Pacific B747-400
17:05EVA AirB747-400E
17:35China AirlinesA330-300
17:40Hong Kong AirlinesA330-200
17:45Cathay Pacific B777-200
18:40Cathay Pacific B777-200
19:10China AirlinesA340-300
19:25Cathay Pacific B747-400
19:25EVA AirB747-400E
20:00Cathay Pacific B747-400
20:10China AirlinesA330-300
21:00EVA AirA330-200
21:30China AirlinesA330-300
22:15China AirlinesA330-300
22:40Cathay PacificB777-200
23:20Hong Kong AirlinesA330-200