Royal Brunei Airlines flew its inaugural chartered flight to the outlying island of Kinmen Saturday, marking the first chartered flight service operated by a foreign carrier.
The flight touched down at Kinmen Airport at 7:10 a.m. Saturday, carrying almost 50 passengers from Brunei who received a warm welcome from Kinmen Deputy Magistrate Huang I-kai .
The plane later departed from the airport carrying 148 passengers, including Huang.
Thanks to efforts by the tourism industries of Kinmen and Brunei, Taiwanese expatriates in Brunei, and Taiwan representative to Brunei Andrew Lee, the Kinmen County government announced in September the Brunei Airlines charter service in a bid to boost the island's international visibility and create more business opportunities.
Lin Yung-piao, head of the Travel Agency Association of Kinmen, said the chartered flights are expected to increase exchanges between the island and Brunei.
Huang said the flights represent a milestone for Kinmen County at a time of a falling number of Chinese tourists after China imposed a ban in August on independent Chinese tourists from 47 Chinese cities wishing to come to Taiwan.
Kinmen is looking into alternative tourist sources in a bid to mitigate the impact of the Chinese government restriction, Huang said.
He added that the county has set its sights on the Southeast Asian market via chartered flights.
According to Kinmen's Tourism Bureau, the county started the first chartered flight services between the island and Macau in September 2006, followed by services between the island and Singapore in December of that year.
In January 2008, a third chartered flight service was launched between Kinmen and Japan's Hokkaido by Taiwan's Mandarin Airlines, a subsidiary of China Airlines.
Royal Brunei Airlines, restarted direct flight services to Taiwan in December in 2018 after a 15-year hiatus.
The carrier currently operates three round-trip flights per week between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Brunei International Airport, according to the airline's official website.